What is a Joint Medical Exam?
A Joint Medical Examination (“JME”) is a medico-legal assessment that is performed by a specialist independent doctor who is asked to assess your transport accident injuries.
While these assessments are arranged by your legal team, the TAC pays for them. The TAC is also entitled to a copy of the report from the assessment, and to ask questions of the doctor.
Can I ask my own treating doctor to do the examination and assessment?
JME’s and other medico-legal assessments must be done by doctors who have not treated you in relation to your injuries. This is because they must be independent expert witnesses, and because to properly assess you for the legal claim they need to have performed specific training and have particular expertise.
If you think that a report from your treating doctor would be helpful to your claim, in addition to your JME’s, you should speak to your legal team about requesting a report in writing. However, a written report from your doctor can not replace a JME.
What does the medico-legal specialist do?
The purpose of the medico-legal assessment is to support your claim for compensation and not for treatment purposes.
The medico-legal specialist should not give you advice about your treatment. Their role is to answer specific questions asked by your lawyer and by the TAC.
The medico-legal specialist also gives an assessment of your level of impairment for your transport accident injuries in accordance with the American Medical Association guides.
Their written report is sometimes called an “opinion” or an “assessment”.
Do I have to attend a medico-legal appointment?
This is an important step to pursuing compensation or benefits from the TAC. You must attend the examination.
If you cannot attend the appointment or if you are running late, you need to notify your lawyer as soon as possible.
If you do not attend the appointment or cancel at least 5 days prior to the appointment, you may be required to pay a cancellation or non-attendance fee.
Missing your appointment or being late can also cause significant delays to your case, because these appointments are often scheduled months in advance.
How long does a JME take?
The examination could go from 30 minutes to 3 hours depending on the specialty of the examiner.
You should speak to your lawyer about the amount of time allocated for the assessment.
Will I be reimbursed for my travel and time off work?
Your reasonable travel expenses can be reimbursed for your travel to and from the examination. You will need to make the claim via the myTAC app or complete the TAC Travel Reimbursement Form and forward it to the TAC so that you can be reimbursed.
In some circumstances, the TAC may also consider funding lost income if you need to take time off work to attend the appointment. You must provide the TAC with evidence to support your loss of income.
What should I bring with me to a JME?
All of the important medical records and reports relating to your TAC claim will have been sent to the medico-legal specialist before the JME.
However, you should take relevant X-rays, scans or radiological reports that may help the specialist assess your condition. If you wear reading glasses some examiners require you to bring these to your appointment.
Can I bring someone with me?
You can bring a support person with you to the examination. This person can assist you during the examination but is not allowed to interrupt or speak for you. Some doctors may request that your support person waits outside during the examination.
If English is not your first language, an interpreter can be arranged to attend with you.
If you are hearing impaired, an appropriate sign-language interpreter can be arranged to attend with you.
If you are a minor (under the age of 18), a parent, guardian or support person should attend the assessment with you.
What happens after the JME?
Once you’ve attended the appointment with the medico-legal expert, they will prepare their written report, and send a copy to your legal team and to the TAC.
This process usually takes 2-3 weeks.
Once your lawyer has received and reviewed a copy of the reports, they will usually contact you to discuss it, and to talk about the next steps in the case.
What if the assessment goes badly?
Sometimes, clients finish a JME and feel that it didn’t go as planned – they didn’t get the chance to say everything that they wanted, they were asked unexpected questions, or on rare occasions they feel as though the medico-legal expert was dismissive or even rude.
While it is important for your legal team to get feedback about the JME, it can be a good idea to first wait and see what the report says, so that you don’t spend time unnecessarily worrying about the JME.