In this Issue — August 2009
- Independent Medical Exams, Part I, Part II, and Part III
Many of you have had to undergo what is called an “Independent Medical Exam” (IME) by a doctor chosen by and paid for by the insurance company for the person we are suing. The idea is for a doctor who has no interest in the outcome of the case to examine you and write an unbiased medical report addressing whether you are really injured. Sounds pretty fair, right? Wrong! In my opinion, the whole thing is a gigantic sham largely designed to get a report from a respected medical professional who usually says you are fully recovered and capable of doing everything you could do before your injury! OK, if you think I am paranoid, then read this from the New York Times:
A New York Times reporter followed an injured person, a driver for a plumbing company, who told the IME doctor he had fallen, banging up his back, shoulder and ribs. He was seeking expanded workers’ compensation benefits because he no longer felt he could do his job. Dr. Samuels, the independent medical examiner in the state workers’ compensation system, seemed to agree. For example, as he moved about his scuffed Brooklyn office last April, he called out test results. Dr. Samuels’ words were captured on videotape. The client thought all was well and legit. Yet the report Dr. Samuels (the IME physician) later submitted to the New York State Workers’ Compensation Board, cleared the driver for work and told a far different story – no back spasms, no tender neck. In fact, no recent injury at all. “If you did a truly pure report”, Dr. Samuels said later in an interview, “you’d be out on your ears and the insurance wouldn’t pay for it. You have to give them what the want, or you’re in Florida. That’s the game, baby.”
A New York review of cases filed and medical records and interviews with participants indicate that the exam reports are routinely tilted to benefit insurance companies by minimizing or dismissing injuries. So what can we do to fight this? Most importantly, we employ your treating doctor to counter the insurance doctor. Often your doctor saw you 10 or 15 times over the course of your injury, whereas the insurance doctor only sees you one time for about 10 minutes, usually about two years after the accident occurred. That’s a huge advantage for you. Often times, a jury gets it right and sees thru the insurance game. Our job is to convince the jury that your doctor is the real believable expert.
- Accutane Verdict
Accutane, a drug used to treat severe acne, has been prescribed to more than 13 million patients worldwide. Unfortunately, it has also been linked to birth defects, suicide and depression, and inflammatory bowel disease. A jury recently awarded $2.6 million to a man who claimed Accutane caused his inflammatory bowel disease. The man was prescribed Accutane and took it for four months. Shortly thereafter, he began suffering from inflammatory bowel disease so severe that he had to have his colon removed. The man argued successfully that the drug manufacturer failed to adequately warn of the serious side effects associated with the drug.