Independent Medical Examinations

| by Heather Duncan, Esq.

Medical examinations under the California Code of Civil Procedure (CCP) sections 2032.010-2032.650 are commonly referred to as “Independent Medical Examinations” or IMEs.

CCP §2032.220 allows any personal injury defendant to make a demand for an IME on the plaintiff, provided that the examination does not include any test or procedure that is painful, protracted or intrusive and the examination is located within 75 miles of the residence of the examinee.  

As outlined in CCP §2032.230(a), when a demand for an IME is received, the plaintiff may either agree to the request, agree to the request with specific modifications, or refuse to submit to the demanded IME for reasons specified in the response. If plaintiff serves a response refusing to submit to the IME and stating valid objections, it is defendant’s burden to bring a motion to compel. CCP §2032.250. If the plaintiff fails to file a timely response, all objections are waived.

Once it has been settled that the plaintiff will submit to an IME and the scope and nature of the examination have been agreed to, the plaintiff counsel may request that “any words spoken to or by the examinee during any phase of the examination” are stenographically reported and certified. Video recording is not allowed. Plaintiff counsel also has a right to personally attend and observe the examination as detailed in CCP §2032.510.

The IME is designed to give the defense a chance to have a doctor, who has not been involved in the plaintiff’s care, examine the plaintiff and prepare a defense for trial.  There is no doctor patient relationship created by the examination and the IME doctor may not question or examine the plaintiff in any area outside of the scope of the IME.

The easiest way for plaintiff counsel to protect against inappropriate questioning or examination is to be present and have a certified court reporter prepare a transcript. Counsel may also request that the court reporter print timestamps on the final transcript to allow counsel to know how long each segment of the examination lasted. Having a court reporter at the examination provides an objective record of what transpires and often helps avoid disputes at trial between the attorney and the examining physician.

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