People who are hurt due to the negligence of others can often recover damages in civil lawsuits. While some harm is abundantly clear, other injuries are less obvious. As such, it is not uncommon for a defendant to request that a plaintiff undergo an independent medical examination. While such examinations are permitted under Massachusetts Rule of Civil Procedure 35, only certain parties are authorized to conduct them. In a recent opinion, a Massachusetts court analyzed whether neuropsychologists are among those authorized to conduct such examinations. If you were injured in an accident caused by another party’s carelessness, you have the right to seek compensation, and you should meet with a Cape Cod personal injury attorney as soon as possible.
The Plaintiff’s Harm
Allegedly, the plaintiff worked on a construction site where the defendant acted as the general contractor. He was involved in a catastrophic accident that caused him to suffer significant cognitive and physical injuries. His conservators then filed a lawsuit against the defendant, alleging its negligence caused the plaintiff’s harm.
It is reported that during discovery, the plaintiff produced an opinion from a neuropsychologist outlining his cognitive harm. After reviewing the opinion and the plaintiff’s medical records, the defendant disputed the extent of the plaintiff’s injuries and moved to have him undergo an examination with a neuropsychologist pursuant to Rule 35. The plaintiff objected, arguing that an examination with a neuropsychologist was not permitted under Rule 35, as neuropsychologists are not doctors. The trial court granted the defendant’s motion, and the plaintiff appealed.
Independent Medical Examinations in Massachusetts Personal Injury Cases
Rule 35 contemplates that parties can seek independent medical examinations in civil lawsuits to determine the extent of a plaintiff’s purported harm. Rule 35 states that such examinations must be conducted by physicians but does not define the term. Thus, the appellate court looked at the ordinary and usual meaning of the word to determine whether neuropsychologists should be considered physicians.
The appellate court explained that dictionaries define physicians both as doctors and as people adroit at the art of healing others. It further elaborated that neuropsychologists engaged in the practice of diagnosing and treating people with cognitive detriments. As such, the appellate court found that neuropsychologists should be considered physicians for the purposes of Rule 35, despite the fact that they did not have to possess medical degrees to perform their duties. Based on the foregoing, the appellate court affirmed the trial court ruling.
Speak to a Trusted Cape Cod Attorney
People hurt in accidents can often pursue claims against the parties responsible for their harm, but they must establish their damages to recover compensation. If you were injured by another party’s reckless acts, it is advisable to speak to an attorney to determine what evidence you must produce to establish liability. The trusted personal injury lawyers of The Law Offices of John C. Manoog, III, can assess the facts surrounding your injury and help you to pursue any damages recoverable under the law. You can reach us through our online form or by calling us at 888-262-6664 to set up a meeting.