Are you facing a Defense Medical Examination?
Also known as a DME, it’s a physical exam conducted of you, the plaintiff and injured railroad worker, by a doctor of the railroad's choosing for the purpose of helping the railroad defend against your claim.
You will hear many refer to it as an IME, as in, independent medical examination. (Historically, it stood for insurance, not independent.) However, if you think about it, there's actually nothing independent about the exam. This doctor was strategically chosen by the railroad for its own defense purposes.
When you realize that the doctor is just an extension of the railroad, you'll have your brain in the right place when you go for the exam.
What should you do if you’re assigned to attend DME?
Before you go to the exam you should talk to your attorney for specific advice. But this is what I tell my clients generally. You won’t need, and shouldn’t take, any documents with you other than a photo ID. You’re not there to get a full inquisition as to how you got hurt. That's what a deposition is for. You’re simply there to provide the most basic explanation of the body mechanics at the time you were hurt and an explanation of what body parts are now bothering you. Most often the doctor will run through a series of standard tests intended to determine what your limitations are.
Three things to do during your DME:
- Take note of how long the doctor is actually in the room with you
- Note what tests are actually performed.
- Call your lawyer as soon as you get out of the exam to provide an update.
If you can’t speak to your attorney right away, make notes for yourself so he or she has an accurate record of what went on in the room.
Take a few minutes before going into the exam to walk yourself through the scenario in your head. This will attune your mind to important details to look out for.
Here are some sample questions to keep in mind:
Was a device used to test you? Ask its name.
Did the railroad Doctor avoid the area you said bothered you? Make a mental note.
Did the doctor barely touch you? Remember to mention it to your lawyer afterward.
Was the exam held in a real medical office, or a hotel conference room?
Make sure you see the written report of the DME. When the report comes to your lawyer, read and check it for accuracy.
- Did you say the things the report says you did?
- Did the doctor really do everything listed in the report?
Why should you be so careful about a DME? Because unlike an exam your treating doctor gives you, where he or she is solely concerned about your health and well-being, this DME doctor is working for the railroad. And the DME doctor, like the carrier, has other interests at stake, like minimizing your injury claim.
It's your health. Make sure you advocate for it and take a proactive approach in any exam room.
Career ending injuries are not always catasrophic. Sometimes its the multiplying effect of minor injuries over time. Learn how one worker recovered more than $2 million for his injuries. Download the case study here.