In the event that you find yourself in an injury claim, your insurance policy may require you to submit an independent medical examination (IME). This is most likely because there’s a dispute with your insurance company and the evaluation given by your treating doctor. Therefore, the insurance company will request that an IME be conducted by a more neutral party. In addition, if your injury results in litigation, the defendant’s attorney (or defendant’s insurance company’s attorney) may require you to submit to such an examination as well. However, despite being termed an “independent medical examination,” these exams are conducted by doctor’s retained by the defendant and are not neutral. The goal is often to diminish your injuries and contradict your treating doctor’s conclusions. The results of these types of examinations have a significant impact on your overall case.
Who Conducts an IME?
Rules about independent medical examinations vary from state to state. Generally, when an insurance company requests an IME, it also selects the doctor who will perform the evaluation. In other cases, the examining doctor may be randomly selected from a list of qualified specialists or the doctor may be designated by the judge. When the examination is ordered through litigation, it is the defendant’s insurance company that selects the doctor. Often that doctor is someone who is exclusively retained by defense attorneys seeking to devalue your injuries.
What Happens During the IME?
Before the examination, any medical records related to your injury will be sent to the doctor conducting the IME. In addition, a letter may be sent to the doctor from the insurance company with their account of your injury. You should ask to review any such letter sent to the IME doctor for accuracy. Unlike a normal physician-patient relationship, during an IME, anything you tell the doctor will be disclosed and could even be used against you. As far as the examination itself, the doctor will ask you questions related to your injury and will then conduct a physical exam, which may include tests. If the doctor asks you any questions unrelated to your injury, you should decline to answer. After the IME, the doctor will write a report with their evaluation and conclusions. A copy of this report should be sent to you or your lawyer, the insurance company, and usually the judge.
If your insurance company requests an IME, we encourage you to contact a personal injury attorney. Independent medical examinations are often conducted by doctors who regularly work for the insurance company and want to make the insurance company content, so they continue to receive referrals. Our experienced lawyers at The Cochran Firm New York would be happy to discuss your case and will always have your best interest in mind. Call us today at (212) 553-9215 for a free consultation.