Independent Medical Examinations - The Law Behind Them

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Independent medical examinations are bad news. They are performed by doctors who make their living off of helping insurance companies deny injured motorists their no-fault benefits. They aren’t “independent” at all. Instead they are a tool of defense attorneys used to poke holes in your no-fault claim.

So if independent medical examinations are so bad, why do they happen in every single First Party no-fault claim?

The Law Allows Independent Medical Examinations

The Michigan No-Fault Act says:

“When the mental or physical condition of a person is material to a claim that has been or may be made for past or future personal protection insurance benefits, the person shall submit to mental or physical examination by physicians.”

In other words, if you are claiming that your mental or physical health was affected by a car crash, then the insurance company’s attorneys can require you to be examined by a doctor. Since every no-fault claim includes physical or mental injuries, IMEs happen in every case.

And that’s true even if you never go to court. The law also allows insurance providers to include medical examinations as a condition of coverage. So even before the insurance company considers your claims to medical expenses, lost wages, and attendant care costs, you will need to go before a doctor for an independent medical examination.

Independent Medical Examination Reports

The good news is that once the evaluation is done, you are allowed to get a copy of all the doctors’ reports. Your car accident attorneys can request copies of those reports as part of discovery, so you will know what the insurance company will say at trial. The bad news is that once you ask for those records, you waive your doctor-patient confidentiality with any doctor who had examined or treated the same injuries in the past. Your own primary care physicians, surgeons, and therapists, will have to turn over their reports about your condition as well.

Refusing Independent Medical Examinations

With all the down sides, why not just refuse to take an independent medical examination? That may be the worst decision you can make in your no-fault case. Refusing an independent medical examination could lead the court to:

  • Decide your injuries are as described by the insurance company;
  • Refuse to let your lawyers present evidence of your injuries; or even
  • Dismiss your case entirely.

Your auto accident attorneys can help limit the number of IMEs you have to go through, or protect you from particularly invasive or painful examinations. But if you are looking for no-fault benefits, either in court or through an insurance claim, an independent medical examination will be part of the process. Rather than interfere with the process, work with your lawyers to build a case against the defense’s doctors. That way you will still receive all the medical insurance benefits you deserve.