Videotaping a Defense Medical Exam: Should Personal Injury Lawyers Explore This Option?

When I received an advertisement for a book on Deposing Difficult Doctors by Florida personal injury lawyer, Kim Hart, the title certainly caught my attention. The advertisement included excerpts from the book. What caught my interest is the notion of videotaping “independent” medical exams (IMEs). The book makes two arguments in favor of videotaping IMEs:

1. “If you make it a practice to videotape all compulsory medical examinations, you soon will have videotapes of most of the doctors used by the insurance companies in your area. Give your client a copy of a previous videotaped compulsory medical examination and the transcript from the examination of the doctor who is scheduled to examine her. This will take all the mystery and surprise out of the situation and help calm your client’s fear of the unknown.”
2. “A defense-oriented CME [I assume this stands for compulsory medical exam] doctor often plays Mr. Nice Guy at the examination. He will make sympathetic statements to your client such as, “I can see you have suffered a lot” or “I can tell that this injury has had a serious effect on your life.” If a physician is two-faced and projects Mr. Nice Guy at the compulsory medical examination but Attila the Hun at trial, showing the jury a tape of the examination can communicate to them instantly what a scheme he is.”
I thought these arguments were interesting. It is not a regular practice for Maryland personal injury lawyers in Maryland in motor tort cases to videotape defense medical exams. I also do not know how a Maryland court would view an injury plaintiff videotaping the medical examination as a precondition to that exam.

Moreover, I am not sure I fully accept the logic articulated in support of the efficacy of videotaping medical exams. I agree that it would be helpful to have a library of tapes for a lawyer’s personal injury clients. But it is very possible that Dr. Jekyll will maintain the nice guy persona he committed to during the examination and give a more complete examination than the doctor otherwise would. I do not often see Mr. Hyde at trial, most doctors doing defense medical exam work get the gig by being able to attack injury victims’ claims in an avuncular way. Moreover, if the injury victim overreaches or otherwise presents poorly in the video, that will be preserved for all time. Still, I think this is an interesting idea. If anyone has any thoughts about it, I would appreciate your input.

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  • Leroy

    I’m not sure why personal injury lawyers feel compelled to do these things. Just let the doctor do his evaluation and you can cross examine him at trial. In my opinion, it is all overkill. The defendants have a right to evaluate a plaintiff, right? So why not let the doctor do his evaluation in peace?

  • Ron:

    In NY where I practice injury law, I videotape about half of my clients’ IME (INSURANCE Medical Exams) and I have found the videotapes to be very useful both before and at trial. I think you have to be careful about carefully considering both the good and the bad of the particular client and the particular Dr when making the videotaping decision but with some care I have found videotaping to be very useful.

    Jim Reed
    Author: NYInjuryLawBlog.com

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