Attending an Independent Medical Exam (IME) [Blog & Video]
Everyone who is involved in a personal injury case should know about physical exams. It will be helpful to learn a little about an Independent Medical Examination, IME, before attending one.
The main question is- What is the purpose of the physical exam? If you brought a personal injury case, the opponent or the defendant in the case, is entitled to an opportunity to conduct a physical examination by a doctor or doctors, depending upon your injuries of their choosing. Why is that? Once you bring a personal injury case, you are putting your physical condition in issue, your past injuries, injuries related to the accident, as well as your future prognosis and your abilities that might be impaired due to that injury or multiple injuries.
The insurance companies get a crack at having their doctor check you out, so to speak, to see whether they agree with the medical reports we might obtain from your doctors. They call this an Independent Medical Examination, though it is far from independent. It is really a misnomer. I like to refer to these as Defendant’s Medical Exams because, really that’s what they are. The doctors who are hired to do this type of exam are part of a panel of doctors that each insurance company vets and keeps in their stable. Defense attorney’s and the insurance companies they work for can send plaintiffs to their Doctors for examinations.
Some of the doctors run mills. You will show up to the doctor’s office and there could be 50 people waiting to see that doctor for the same exact reason that you were there. When that happens, you go in for the exam with that doctor and you’re likely not going to see them for more than three minutes. Yes, that’s right. Just three minutes and they give a report saying their opinion on your condition based on the three minute exam. If you have an orthopedic injury, they’re going to administer a simple range of motion test to see whether you can put your hand up like this or do that, and so on. The doctors may not use instruments to measure those things. They just eyeball it and write a report saying your absolutely fine. The doctor could say that you don’t need any further care or have any further limitations.
How we can help you during an IME
To combat this, on most cases we send an advocate, who is from an independent company to go with you. They are meant to guide you through the experience and make sure all questions are appropriate. If the doctor or the staff do something that is inappropriate or not within the confines of the rules we abide by, they will be able to report back. If necessary they can testify at trial so that we can discredit the faulty examination that was conducted. The independent advocate we may send is there for you and your safety.
The medical examination part of Personal Injury cases is often not mentioned. For clients, it is important for them to understand the procedure of their injury cases. As mentioned, Insurance companies are involved in this aspect of your case, which is why it is crucial you know the procedure. For decades I have been involved in Personal Injury law. If you have a case or would like to bring one, I am more than happy to discuss that with you.
James F. Leonick
Leonick Law, P.L.L.C.
TEL: (631) 486-9500