The Defense Medical Examination Guide

Defense Medical Exam Tips


The defense has requested that you attend an examination with a doctor of their choosing. It may be referred to as a CR35 exam, Defense Medical Examination or even and Independent Medical Exam. Regardless of the name, you should understand that you are attending and examination with a doctor chosen by defense counsel for the purpose of defending against your claims.

It is not for the purpose of treating you or assisting you and no doctor patient relationship will be formed. A Defense Medical Exam is a routine event in nearly every personal injury lawsuit. You may be nervous since you don’t know what to expect.

Rest assured, most Defense Medical Examinations turn out to be pretty ordinary. The examining doctor is unlikely to challenge you directly in any way. However, you still must remember to remain alert during your exam.

Your examination will likely proceed in two parts. First, there is usually an interview or history portion. Here you will be asked to describe your symptoms and injuries and anything else that has either been stipulated to or ordered by the court.

Next you will be examined by the doctor chosen by defense counsel. This will be the same doctor who will testify against your treating physicians and expert witnesses at your trial. The Defense examiner will likely have you perform a series of movements and/or stretches to evaluate your claimed injuries. Some of the movements and stretches are specifically designed to discover any inconsistencies between the physical evidence and what you have reported.

Perform the requested movements and stretches, as well as you are able and do not perform any that cause you pain or stop at the point where the pain starts.

The defense medical examiner will prepare a report of their findings and opinions within a few weeks of the examination. That report will be provided to your attorney. Below are some tips and advice for how to handle your Defense Medical Examination.

Defense Medical Examination Tips

1. The defense doctor is NOT on your side. The doctor you are seeing was hired by the defense for the purpose of discrediting your claims. The doctor will not provide treatment to you or any treatment recommendations.

2. Be on time. Plan to arrive at least 15 minutes early to give yourself time to park and find the exam room. Being tardy could result in rescheduling your exam, costs charged to you, and possibly even delaying the conclusion of your case.

3. The exam starts from the moment you exit your car. It is likely that you will be observed the entire time you are on the premises, even when you are not at your exam. Therefore, behave normally, do not hide, or exaggerate your symptoms.

4. The defense doctor will be looking for inconsistencies. The defense doctor will examine you but will also be looking for inconsistencies in your physical exam and the symptoms you report. The doctor is trained to look for signs of pain behavior and exaggeration.

5. Review your deposition before your examination to refresh your memory of your testimony.

6. Be truthful and honest in answering questions. You should fully and truthfully report your symptoms without exaggeration. If something hurts, say so. If it doesn’t, then report that truthfully as well.

7. Do NOT offer information that is not asked of you. While truthfulness is critical, you should not offer information that is not asked of you or embellish your reporting.

8. Do no fill out any forms. Other than forms pre-approved by your attorney. This has been pre-arranged between your attorney and the defense attorney.

9. Do take with you a copy of the CR35 Order entered with the Court. Your attorney will give this to you.

10. You may take a companion with you. Your companion may not interfere with the exam.

11. Be clean and neatly attired for your examination.

12. Describe your symptoms truthfully but do not exaggerate.

13. Do not do anything that is painful to you

14. Be polite and pleasant with the doctor, and the staff and anyone else you encounter during your visit.

15. Please let your attorney know if you have any questions at all.

Personal Injury Attorney Puyallup

Sofia K. Miguel, Attorney

Sofia K. Miguel has extensive litigation experience; she has tried or arbitrated hundreds of cases throughout Western Washington. She graduated from Seattle University School of Law in 2000 and has 17 years’ experience representing injured people. She is a member of the Washington State Bar Association and an EAGLE member of the Washington State Association for Justice.

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