Sometimes referred to as an “independent” medical exam, the real purpose of these examinations is typically to aid the defense in refuting the plaintiff’s assertion of injuries with regard to causation, type and extent. Essentially, the doctor is looking to minimize the liability of the defense.
Our Boca Raton personal injury lawyers recognize this process can be somewhat overwhelming for the injured party. The good news is that Florida Rules of Civil Procedure limit the reasons why such an exam may be granted. The scope, too, is restricted.
Rule 1.360 governs these restrictions. Some examples include that minors must be accompanied by a parent or guardian at all times, the physical condition of the party must be in controversy and the requesting party must show good cause.
In the recent case of Maddox v. Bullard, Florida’s Fifth District Court of Appeal rejected defense argument that the request met these strict requirements. The court did not preclude the defense from refiling a request, but required that it fall into line with appropriate legal standards.
According to court records, the plaintiff filed a lawsuit after she was bitten by the defendant’s dog. In her claim, she indicated she suffered from mental anguish as a result of the incident.
The defense requested a compulsory medical exam, most assuredly in an effort to counter her claims.
The plaintiff’s attorney responded with a motion requesting a protection order. This order is meant to bar the requirement of a compulsory medical exam.
In these matters, it is up to the requesting party to establish that there is good cause and also to specify the time, manner, place, scope and conditions of the exam.
The trial court granted the defense motion to initiate a psychological examination pursuant to the rule. However, in that order, the court only noted the time and place of the exam, as well as the name of the doctor who would perform the exam.
When the plaintiff’s counsel requested that some boundaries be set, the trial court refused to do so.
The plaintiff’s attorney appealed this decision.
The appellate court found that the request for exam failed to meet the necessary requirements. First, given the fact that the scope, conditions and manner of the exam was not specified, the court ruled this essentially gave the psychologist free reign to perform whatever kind of testing and analysis he deemed appropriate for up to four hours.
Additionally, this meant that good cause was not established for each specific portion of the examination because there was no indication of the type of exam the psychologist intended to conduct. Without this information, the appellate court ruled, the trial court should never have granted the defense’s request.
Still, the court declined to grant the plaintiff’s motion to bar an exam entirely. Instead, the defense would be required to submit another request that adheres to the legal requirements.
If you have been injured in Boca Raton, contact the Hollander Law Firm at 888-751-7777 for a free and confidential consultation. There is no fee unless we win.
Maddox v. Bullard, July 11, 2014, Florida’s Fifth District Court of Appeal
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