Do Maryland Accident Victims Need to Attend Independent Medical Exams?

When an accident victim files a Maryland personal injury case, the plaintiff must present some evidence of the injuries they sustained to satisfy the “damages” element of their claim. If a plaintiff cannot prove that they sustained damages, the court will dismiss the plaintiff’s claim, even if the defendant admits that they were negligent in causing the accident.

Typically, a plaintiff will present evidence from either a treating physician or a physician who was seen for the specific purpose of obtaining a medical opinion for the case. Of course, the defendant may be skeptical about the plaintiff’s claimed injuries, and they may seek to obtain an independent medical examination (IME) of the plaintiff. Like it or not, if the court orders an IME, a plaintiff must attend and cooperate with the examination. A recent case illustrates the consequences a plaintiff may face if he or she fails to cooperate with a court-ordered IME.

According to the court’s opinion, the plaintiff, a railroad worker, was injured when he slipped after stepping in a puddle of oil. The plaintiff filed a personal injury lawsuit against his employer under the Federal Employer’s Liability Act and was deposed shortly afterward. The defendant requested an IME, which the plaintiff contested, arguing that it was scheduled too far from his home. The court ordered the plaintiff to attend the IME, but it required the defendant to pay for the plaintiff’s mileage.

Once the IME was scheduled, the plaintiff was asked to complete a questionnaire covering his “complaints, medical history, medications, prior evaluations, and how and where his injury occurred.” The plaintiff again objected, arguing that the questionnaire was unnecessary because all of the information was contained in his deposition. In place of the questionnaire, the judge ordered the plaintiff to be interviewed by the medical assistant of the doctor performing the IME.

When the plaintiff arrived at the IME, he refused to be interviewed by the medical assistant. Ultimately, the doctor came in to conduct the IME, but the plaintiff would not discuss any of his questions, referring the doctor to the printed deposition. The plaintiff allowed the doctor to perform a physical examination but answered no questions.

The doctor’s report, not surprisingly, was not favorable to the plaintiff. The doctor noted the plaintiff’s non-compliance and indicated that the plaintiff “had no significant pathology in his lumbar region, required no further treatment, and was asserting contradictory claims about how the injury occurred.” After the doctor released the report, the defendant moved to dismiss the case, arguing that the plaintiff failed to comply with the court’s order that he undergo an IME.

The court granted the defendant’s motion to dismiss the case, finding that the plaintiff’s actions were “deliberate and calculated to circumvent the order.” The court rejected the plaintiff’s claim that he was merely relying on his own attorney’s advice, explaining that the plaintiff “cannot escape the consequences of his own actions by laying blame on the advice of counsel.”

Have You Been Injured in a Maryland Accident?

If you or someone in your family has recently been injured in a Maryland car accident, the dedicated personal injury lawyers at Lebowitz & Mzhen, LLC can help. At Lebowitz & Mzhen, we provide an exceptional level of service to our clients, while offering them sound advice throughout the process. We understand the nuances of the substantive and procedural laws in Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C., and we take the time to explain the situation to each client so that they can stay informed about the status of their case. To learn more, call 410-654-3600 to schedule a free consultation today.

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