In the course of your personal injury lawsuit, you will probably be required to undergo an “Independent Medical Examination.” This is a medical evaluation by the defendant’s hired doctor, and it is a normal part of any personal injury claim.
Anything But Independent
Because you are asking to be compensated for a medical condition, the insurance company and individual defendants have the right to have their own doctor evaluate your injury and recovery.
Even though these examinations are called independent, there is nothing neutral about the evaluation. The IME is done by a doctor your opponent hand selected and paid. Often insurance companies use the same doctors on a very regular basis because they have gotten the results they were looking for. A better term for these evaluations would be insurance medical examinations.
What to Expect in an Independent Medical Examination
In a typical IME you will be asked to complete a form that lists your entire medical history. Ask your attorney whether you are required to fill out those forms or not.
Then the insurance company’s doctor will interview you about your current health, your injury, how it has impacted your lifestyle, and whether you have had similar problems in the past. Be honest and answer these questions completely.
The doctor will then conduct a physical examination. Do your best throughout the tests. The doctors are looking for clues to suggest you are not giving your full effort.
The Independent Medical Examination Report
After the examination the doctor will right a report of his or her opinions and send it to the insurance company or its attorney. Your lawyer will also receive a copy of the report. Often, the IME will state that your injury was not related to the accident or that you have achieved full recovery. Don’t panic. This is just one doctor’s opinion and does not mean the end of your case. Your own doctors’ opinions can be used to disprove the insurance company doctor’s report and win your case.