Independent Medical Evaluation in Personal Injury Cases
Independent medical evaluation – or the opinion of a medical professional – can make or break a personal injury case. This is only the secondary reason why you should seek medical attention following an accident or injury; the first priority is, of course, to be treated. But even beyond that, it’s still important to have a record that proves that there was, in fact, the harm done, that your claim is legitimate, and that your quality of life or ability to care for yourself has been negatively affected. These are all things that can be verified by the physician who examines and treats you following an accident.
But what happens when the professional opinion of your own doctor isn’t enough?
What an IME Is, and When It’s Necessary
An IME, or independent medical evaluation, is not precisely what it sounds like. In cases where you are seeking damages from a defendant, you cannot be coerced into undergoing an IME. However, in cases where you are seeking a payout from an insurance provider, failure to submit to the evaluation can render you in breach of your contract, and therefore disqualify you from receiving any benefits.
Herein lies the main complication of an independent medical evaluation: it’s an exam order by your insurance company, whose primary goal is to ensure that they pay as little money as possible to each claimant. And while the process is meant to be independent and, therefore, unbiased, the truth is that the doctor evaluating you has been selected by the insurance company, and may or may not enter into the exam with biases, whether consciously or not.
What to Do During Your Independent Medical Evaluation
It’s of paramount importance to remember that the doctor performing your IME is not like your regular doctor, and you will not be likely to create the typical doctor-patient relationship with them. Their interest is in providing their professional input to your personal injury case. Be punctual and professional, and be sure to bring along records of previous treatment related to the injury at hand. Answer all questions as honestly as you can—exaggerating or understating the extent of your injuries will not yield any tangible benefit to the outcome of your personal injury case. At the same time, keep your answers direct and to-the-point, and don’t offer unnecessary information that isn’t asked for.
Be sure to keep a record of everything that transpires during your independent medical evaluation, and to speak directly to your personal injury lawyer following the appointment. It is important at this stage of the claims process to keep your legal representation up-to-date on any and all developments