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Category: Medical Treatment

What To Do Before The Defense Medical Exam In Florida?

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Pursuant to Rule 1.360 of the Florida Rules of Civil Procedure, the defense may request you undergo an exam by a qualified expert. This permitted because your physical condition is at issue.

 The defense will make a request specifying the time, place, manner, conditions, and scope of the defense medical exam. Your attorney must respond to the defense’s request within 30 days. Sometimes attorneys object to certain conditions of the exam. If that happens the judge must decide.

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Rights and Responsibilities

Your most important responsibility is to show-up – on time. I always remind my clients the day before the Defense Medical Exam. I want to make sure they know the time and location. If you miss your appointment for a Defense Medical Exam the court could require you to reimburse the defense for the cost of the exam. This can be very expensive – so don’t miss the appointment.

Even though you are required to attend a Defense Medical Exam, you still have rights. First, you do not have to sign anything given to you by the defense doctor without your lawyer reviewing first. Second, you do not have to discuss the liability of the case or what you and your attorney have talked about. Third, you have a right to refuse to be injected, examined without a gown, and/or undergo diagnostic testing. Also, if you are a minor you have a right to be accompanied by a parent or guardian, at all times.

After the Defense Medical Exam you have a right to request a written report of the defense doctor. This report must include the doctor’s findings, diagnosis, and conclusions.  For a copy of my firm’s Notice of Client’s Rights and Responsibilities during a Defense Medical Exam form email me at mlongo@longofirm.com

Always Be Honest

Honesty is the most important thing to remember before a Defense Medical Exam. Exaggerating your symptoms or pain can hurt your case. Doctors are very good at uncovering an exaggeration by looking at the physiological evidence. They can compare your subjective complaints to your nerve pathways to see if they match up. If you’re complaining of pain radiating down your leg, you would expect a lumbar herniated disc. If you don’t – then the doctor will claim you are a liar.

Allow Your Lawyer To Speak To Your Family

As a personal injury attorney in Florida I like to speak to my client’s family and friends. Often times the spouse is more aware of things the client needs help with. This includes bathing, dressing, and eating. I always like to make sure these things are documented – sworn written statement.

Keep A Diary

Another thing that can help your case is to keep a diary. I usually suggest a daily log – morning and night – for at least 30 days. Your spouse should also keep a diary. A diary will tell your attorney things you would never know about you and how your family is suffering. A diary also forces those close to you to “pay attention” and “document” unusual behavior. Things like irritability, depression, lack of motivation, weight gain, etc.  If you’d like to see a copy of a diary template I use in my practice, email me at mlongo@longofirm.com.  

Client Questionnaire

On the day of the Defense Medical Exam, I give my clients a questionaire to take and complete immediately after the exam. The questionnaire asked questions about the exam. This is to be completed when the exam is still fresh in the clients mind. It can be helpful to your attorney while examining the defense doctor at deposition or trial.

Same-Day Appointment With Your Doctor

Another thing I always recommend is scheduling an appointment with your own doctor the same day as the Defense Medical Exam. Your own doctor will document your symptoms – things like muscle spasms and decreased range of motion. This will be documented the same day as the defense doctor said nothing was wrong with you.

More Information

For more information on what to do before or after a Defense Medical Exam check out some of our other personal injury articles on our firm’s website.  Also, you can subscribe to The Longo Firm YouTube channel for informative videos.

 
The Longo Firm, P.A.
Micah J. Longo
12555 Orange Drive, Ste. 233
Davie, FL 33330
Tel: (954) 862-3608
Fax: (954) 944-1916
 

Phases of Medical Treatment After An Accident In Florida

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Phases of Medical Treatment In FloridaImmediately following an accident I always recommend that you seek immediate medical treatment at the Emergency Room. This is the first phase of your medical treatment. Even if you don’t feel pain right of way it’s always best for your body and your piece of mind to be x-rayed and examined by an emergency room doctor.

Initial Visit

After you’ve been released from the emergency room you’ll be instructed to follow-up with a specialist. This is the second phase of your treatment.
 
I recommend that accident victims follow-up with a medical doctor, rather than a chiropractor. You want to see a medical doctor who has experience in personal injury cases. I recommend avoiding primary care physicians because they have been known to sand-bag cases. This is likely becasue of inexperience and/or wanting to avoid the hastle of personal injury litigation. Also, you want to make sure your treating physician is board-certified.

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During your initial visit you’ll spend time filing out lots of paperwork. You’ll be asked questions about your medical history, the accident, and your injuries. Be sure to be 100% truthful when completing initial intake forms. What you write and say could be used against you in Court. You don’t want to deny a prior accident, when you’ve had several in the past. Be sure if you aren’t truthful the defense will find out! Credibility is the most important thing in any accident case.
 
When you finally meet the doctor during your initial visit, expect a full and complete examination. The doctor may order x-rays. If so, he or she will discuss the findings and prescribed a treatment plan. Almost all treatment plans involve a normal course of physical therapy.

Physical Therapy

The third phase of treatment is a normal course of physical therapy. Some doctor offer in-house physial therapy while others will refer you to a chiropractor or other facility. Physical therapy usually consists of 4 to 12 weeks of treatment, depending on your injuries. If you’ve been treating longer than 12 weeks, you should find out why. You’ll want to be careful becasue some doctors, will continue to treat you until all your insurance benefits are exhausted. This could be a red-flag for the insurance company signaling that your treatment was not reasonable, necessary, or related.
 
In the beginning you may be prescribed daily physical therapy, followed by a gradual tapering down to 1-2 times per week. Again, everyone is different, so your own personal physical therapy needs may be different.
 
Treatment during the physical therapy phase usually involves 3 to 4 modes of treatment. The most common modalities for soft tissue injuries are electrical stimulation, hot/cold packs, ultrasound, and chiropractic adjustments.

MRI Scans

The third phase is the MRI scan phase. After an accident your pain might not immediately go away. Often it may get worse. When this happens your treating physician will refer you for an MRI to determine the exact nature of your injuries. A common injury after an accident is a bulging or herniated disc. These painful disc injuries can only be seen on an MRI scan.
 
The sooner you have an MRI after the accident the better. That way it’s less likely the defense can argue that the objective findings on the MRI scan were caused by something else. For example, if you wait 6-months to have an MRI scan, the injuries shown on the films could have been from anything. It’s less likely something other than the accident caused your herniated discs if taken within 30 days of the accident.

Surgical Evaluation

If the MRI reveals a disc injury, especially common in car accident and slip and fall cases, you will be referred to an orthopedic surgeon or a neurosurgeon for work-up and evaluation. This is the fourth stage of medical treatment. If you’re already treating with an orthopedic surgeon, then you’re ahead of the game.
 
An orthopedic surgeon would examine you and your diagnostic tests to determine if you’re a surgical candidate. Usually before surgery you may be referred to a pain management specialist for a series of epidural steriod injections.
 
Epidural steroid injections are given in a series of 2 to 4 injections, usually 30 days apart. Injections can be diagnostic as well as therapeutic. They can give an injured person partial to complete short term relief, and also can be used to tell the complete extent of the disc injury, including its exact location.
 
If you don’t get relief form epidural steroid injections your most likely option is the dreded “surgery.” Most people who are recommended for surgery never follow though. Keep in mind that the insurance company usually won’t pay you as if you’re going to have the surgery, unless you follow through. In other words, it’s not good enough to submit a medical record from an orthopedic surgeon recommending you have surgery. You must actually have the surgery.

Final Evaluation

The final phase is the final evaluation Once you’ve reached maximum medical improvement your treating physician will schedule a final evalation. After the final evaluation the doctor will write a final report. This is the most important medical record in your case. The final report will summarize your treatment, show that you’ve reached maximum medical improvment, and in most cases state you have a permanent injury caused by the accident.
 
The final piece of the puzzle is the heralded impairment rating. This rating is a percentage rating based on the AMA guidelines. For example, your doctor may state you have a 10% whole person impairment. Without a doctor stating your have a permanent injury, you’re not entitled to damages for your pain and suffering in Florida; only your past medical expenses. This only applies in car accident cases; you do not have to prove permanancy in any other injury cases (i.e. slip and fall, products liability, etc.) So, the final evaluation and impairment rating are critical to your accident case.
By:  Micah J. Longo, Managing Attorney, The Longo Firm P.A. (Davie, FL)
Tel:  (954) 862-3608

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