What Is an Independent Medical Exam?
An IME is an independent medical exam. The key thing accident victims should know is – it’s not really independent. Insurance companies have the right to demand that their own doctor examines you. They will claim that the purpose of the exam is just to get a second opinion. To see if maybe there are other treatment options. Plaintiffs should not buy this argument. Florida car accident victims should review an IME exam request with their personal injury lawyer.
The insurance company and defense lawyers have their own team of doctors. These doctors are generally paid good money to do everything they can to show you’re not really hurt. The independent medical exam doctor is trying to show you’re ready to return to work. They will often say that you’re injuries should have healed by now. The defense doctors will suggest that any further treatment needs are minimal.
At the IME, the doctor will ask you oral questions about your injuries and the accident. These questions are really a trap to get you to say things that can hurt your case. For example the doctor is hoping you’ll say something that indicates you were partially to blame for the accident. The IME doctor wants you to be proud instead of honest – to say you’re not really hurting that bad. After the oral exam, the doctor will conduct a physical exam. The goal of the exam is to also try to show you’re not really hurting.
There were 1,715,000 crashes in 2015 in which at least one person was injured – needed to get medical treatment. This statistic comes from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Suggestions for your independent medical exam (IME)
Before you seed the IME doctor, you should speak with your Florida car accident lawyer. The attorney will explain what happens at the IME. He’ll make a number of practical suggestions including these:
- Bring someone to the exam with you. You should bring a family member of friend with you. This relative or friend should understand the purpose of the exam. If the IME doctor lets your companion into the room, he/she can take notes on what questions were asked, how long the exam took, and what tests were done. The relative/friend may not be allowed into the exam room. He/she can still help to keep you calm and focused. If the IME doctor only allows you in the room, then you should remember the questions, tests, and time-frame. You should also jot down these items after the exam – while your memory is fresh.
- Understand the doctor is not your friend. You don’t want to be argumentative. It helps to be nice. You should complete the tests the doctors asks. But you should also avoid volunteering any information. If you’re hurting, then you need to say where it hurts and how much. You should know that the IME doctor has likely reviewed all your prior medical tests and reports. So, you won’t be able to deny what’s in these tests and reports. In many cases, the doctor is testing you to see if your answers and physical responses match the treatments you’ve already gotten.
- Considering asking for the right to videotape the IME exam. Your attorney may suggest videotaping the exam to make sure the IME doctor acts honestly and fairly. The cost of a videotape normally isn’t that much and is usually advanced by your lawyer. There may be some legal and practical reasons why the videotaping may or may not be allowed.
How your lawyer may respond to the IME
Accident victims should understand they have the right to counter the IME report. Your attorney will normally have your own doctors review the IME doctor’s report. The purpose of this review is to explain why the IME report has little merit. For example, your lawyer and doctor typically argue that the treating doctors are the ones who really know your pain and injuries. The IME doctors only sees you for a short time.