“Go To” IME Doctors

independent medical examination doctors

For some IME doctors, every x-ray is negative

Insurance companies have “go to” doctors for “independent” medical exams. These doctors operate by either (1) the sincere conviction that virtually no one is as hurt as they say they are or, (2) by financial motivation.

My money is typically and cynically on the latter. There are some true believers, but I suspect most of the true believers retrofit their zealotry to match their economic interests. These are doctors who insurance companies name as their experts before they ever speak to them.

It is uncanny.  Even in the very worst, most obvious case, they find something — anything — to earn their keep.  I was just looking up an IME today where the kid’s knee was just torn up from the floor up.  He needs a knee replacement.  A tragedy for a young kid.  So the expert gives us that.  But then says that the one knee will last him a lifetime.  EVERY OTHER EXPERT says it will last 10 years.

It makes sense: they don’t have to because they know exactly what the expert will say. We rarely need to depose them because I could write their testimony out for them. The insurance company knows what they will say, I know what they will say, the judge knows what they will say. Like Avon Barksdale said, “The game is the game.”

To be clear, I’m not talking about every defense expert who takes insurance forensic work. I’m talking about the true go-to doctors in “how are we going to defend this case?” cases. In Maryland, I can rattle off the names of five doctors who fit this bill. If you are a tort lawyer in Timbuktu, you are rattling off your docs in your head.

These doctors usually have credentials and are as smooth as silk. But none of that is really required to get the “go-to” gig – the only real requirement is a willingness to offer ridiculous testimony.

The one Achilles’ heel – their Mildred Baena, if you will – is the fact that their credibility is diminished because of the fortune they make testifying for the same insurance companies. Juries get it. Usually, insurance companies just suck up this weakness and hope it does not tank them at trial. More creative insurance defense lawyers have devised an end-run around this problem: choose a doctor in Washington, D.C, or Virginia for the DME that is not in Maryland’s subpoena power.

You have to fight back against this and get the court’s help if you want to fight back.

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