Texas Law Allowed Defendant Against Whom Vicariously Liability Was Claimed to Have Its Doctor Examine Injured Motorist – In re Reliable Commercial Roofing Services, Inc.

One of the biggest points of contention in personal injury lawsuits that arise from motor vehicle accidents is the nature and extent of the plaintiff’s physical and mental injuries. Usually, the plaintiff will offer the testimony of his or her treating physician into evidence on this issue, and the defendant will, of course, have an opportunity to cross examine him or her.

Additionally, the defendant may request that the plaintiff submit to a medical examination by a doctor of the defendant’s choosing. Under Texas law, the trial court may order such an examination if certain conditions are met, and the defendant may introduce the examining doctor’s testimony at trial in order to refute some or all of the testimony offered by the plaintiff’s physician.

While medical examinations at the request of the defendant (or, more accurately, its insurance company) are supposed to be “independent,” a particular doctor is often chosen because of his or her past testimony favorable to defendants in other cases.

Facts of the Case

In the case of In re Reliable Commercial Roofing Services, Inc., the relator was a roofing company whose employee was involved in a car accident with another motorist. In the underlying tort suit, the motorist filed a negligence claim against the employee and the relator, seeking past and future medical expenses for physical injuries to his face, neck, legs, shoulder, spine, chest, and head. He also sought past and future lost earning capacity. He alleged direct negligence by the employee and vicarious negligence against the relator.

During discovery, the relator asked the trial court to order the motorist to submit to a medical examination. The trial court denied the relator’s motion and filed a petition for a writ of mandamus, averring that the trial court had abused its discretion in not ordering the motorist to submit to a medical examination and that the relator lacked an adequate remedy on appeal.

Decision of the Court of Appeals

The court granted the relator’s mandamus petition, directing the trial court to vacate its order denying the relator’s medical examination motion and enter an order granting the motion. In order to warrant an order compelling a medical exam under Texas Rule of Civil Procedure 204.1, the motioning party must seek relief in a timely fashion and show good cause. The requirement of good cause may be met if the physical condition of the opposing party is “in controversy,” the examination is likely to lead to relevant evidence, there is a reasonable nexus between the opposing party’s condition and the examination, and there is not a less intrusive means of obtaining the information desired by the motioning party.

In analyzing the relator’s request, the court noted that the motorist had listed at least 14 different health care providers as possible expert witnesses concerning his injuries and prognosis. Since the motorist had put his physical condition in controversy and clearly expressed his intent to present expert medical testimony at trial, the relator’s motion for an medical exam by its chosen physician should have been allowed.

Contact an East Texas Car Accident Lawyer

If you have been hurt in a car wreck and need an attorney who will help you fight hard for every penny that you deserve, call an experienced east Texas car accident attorney at the Law Offices of Earl Drott, P.C. at (903) 531-9300 for a free consultation. We represent clients in and around Tyler, Smith County, and other places across east Texas.

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