There Is No Such Thing As An Independent Medical Examination
No defendant in a personal injury case will give in without a fight. In fact, their insurance company will make sure that they will fight every inch of the way. They will put hurdles in every step until they have exhausted all their options to reject or lower your claim. An independent medical examination (IME) is one such hurdle. The success or failure of your claim depends on passing it. Therefore, talk to a personal injury attorney and be well prepared before attending an IME.
What you should know before attending an IME
There are a few things that you should know before attending an independent medical examination (IME). Here are the important ones:
- The purpose of an independent medical examination is to resolve disputes and issues regarding your medical condition, such as what medical treatment you require, the degree of your permanent impairment, and whether your injuries were pre-existing.
- In a majority of cases, the doctor performing the IME is chosen by the defendant. So his goal will be to minimize your injuries (show that you are faking injuries) and find inconsistencies that can help his employer reject or reduce your claim.
- The doctor may be a regular IME consultant for insurance companies and performing IMEs could be a lucrative part of his practice. If that is the case, then he is highly likely to be biased in favor of the insurance company.
- There will be no patient-doctor relationship with the medical examiner. He will report every little thing you say or do during the medical examination to the defendant. Anything you say or do could be used against you.
- There may be a CCTV camera at the examination center monitoring all your activities. So be careful not to do anything consciously or unconsciously that may hurt your claim.
How to Prepare for an IME
The medical examiner (physician) will ask you tough questions to find inconsistencies in your claim, so you must be fully prepared before you attend the IME.
- Try to obtain a copy of the letter sent by the defendant to the medical examiner with your referral to see if there are any factual errors that need to be corrected.
- The doctor may want to know about your prior medical history. Review the details of your prior medical history.
- You may be asked questions about your social and recreational activities prior to your injury. Be ready to answer those questions.
- You may be required to give a detailed description of your injuries. Be prepared for it.
- Go through the details of how your injuries occurred and what role you may have played in causing the accident.
- Be ready to recite a chronological history of the medical treatments you have received since you were injured.
- Prepare yourself to answer questions regarding any previous injuries you may have had and the treatments you received.
- You may be asked question about your daily activities, ability to work and your recreational activities since the injury. Be prepared to answer those questions.
- The doctor will ask you how you rate your pain. Assess your pain mentally on a scale of 1 to 10 and be ready to give a truthful answer.
- Be ready to answer questions related to your work, such as your work history after since the accident, specific dates you have been off work since the injury, any transferrable work skills you may have, and your physical exertions capacity in relation to the job.
What To Do (and Not Do) During an IME
- Reach the examination location at least 30 minutes early.
- Be appropriately groomed and dressed.
- Be honest. Do not exaggerate your pain or injuries. Exaggerating will hurt your case since the examination will reveal the truth.
- Do not react negatively to the length and procedures of the examination.
- Be polite and courteous to the doctor. Do not say or do anything to antagonize him.
- Rate your pain level honestly when asked. You can’t fool an experienced medical examiner.
- Tell the doctor that your goal is to return to full health and work as soon as possible.
- Give an accurate account of what caused the injuries.
- Do not talk about the lawsuit with the doctor. If asked, simply tell him that you are doing it to secure your rights.
If you still haven’t hired a personal injury attorney to represent you, then before attending the IME is the time to do it. He will advise you on every aspect of the medical examination. As mentioned above, the success or failure of your claim depends on the IME.