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J Am Acad Psychiatry Law. 2007;35(2):200-10.

Do you understand your risk? Liability and third-party evaluations in civil litigation.

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  • 1Georgetown University Medical Center, Washington, DC, USA.


Many psychiatrists believe that there is little or no liability associated with conducting examinations at the request of a third party or with providing testimony in civil litigation. Case law has demonstrated otherwise. Psychiatrists conducting independent medical examinations (IMEs) may be vulnerable to tort lawsuits by either the evaluee or the third party who commissions the IME. In addition, breaches of legal or ethical conduct can lead to disciplinary action by state medical boards and professional organizations. Although immunity for certain types of forensic activities is available, such immunity is qualified and may not be applicable to evaluations and related testimony conducted for third parties. Understanding the liability associated with third-party evaluations will assist psychiatrists in minimizing their exposure.

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