What is an Independent Medical Examination and is it Fair?

After a car accident, people find themselves coming across procedures or policies with their insurance provider that they’ve never heard of before. One of the common procedures that surprise people is an independent medical examination. Or an independent medical evaluation. This is often done to thoroughly evaluate the extent of injuries and the need for ongoing medical care. There’s much less focus placed on a medical record than most people are led to believe when we discuss car accidents with our friends and family.

So is an independent medical examination reasonable and is it fair? These are big questions, especially for the victims of car accidents as they may have to undergo an IME with a biased doctor or medical professional. It’s very possible that they will face some type of scrutiny or have different results than the victim’s doctor.

What is an IME?

An IME is an independent medical examination, and it’s actually a pretty standard procedure when there are questionable elements of an injury. The trouble is that these examinations are rarely impartial. If anything it is very apparent that an IME is not fair to the victim.

If you were asked to participate in an independent medical examination, then it’s because the insurance company that is likely to make the payout is not buying your injuries. They’re actually saying that they don’t believe you or your medical team and that you should go to one of their doctors. That’s exactly what an IME is. There is no “independence” in this examination because these doctors work directly with that insurance provider. Their best interest is in the insurance provider’s best interest.

Prepare for Your IME

How can you prepare for your independent medical evaluation? The best that you can do is anything that you would do for your normal doctor’s appointment. Arrive early or on time, and dress appropriately. There’s no need to dress up, just wearing clothing you’re comfortable in.

The few extra steps you might need to take during an IME that you wouldn’t with your normal doctor’s visit is to bring someone with you. Ensure that you have another person in the room while this doctor conducts the exam. Having someone with you is a good idea for a few reasons.

First, they can ask questions that you may have forgotten. Second, they are there as your advocate and if you forget to mention particular challenges, you’re facing or symptoms, they serve as the reminding voice. Finally, this is someone that could offer a witness statement if the IME is called into question.

What to Expect at an IME

The doctor is going to ask about levels of pain, your symptoms, limitations, and the difference between persistent and inconsistent pain. It’s important, to be honest about all of these things.

The other thing you should expect is for the doctor to do most of the talking. He may ask open-ended questions, but don’t volunteer extra information. Don’t speak about the lawsuit and don’t talk about areas of your life outside of your injuries. It’s even possible that discussing a sedentary hobby such as painting can have this doctor questioning how much pain you’re actually in.

As a final note on what to expect at the independent medical examination appointment, if the doctor requests for their diagnostic or imaging test, inform them that you’ll have to speak with your attorney and your doctor first. It’s likely that these diagnostic tests have already been done and are part of the evidence in your claim. There’s no reason to undergo diagnostic testing or imagery testing again.

How Can a Douglasville Car Accident Attorney Help?

You filed a claim and felt confident in handling it yourself that feeling might probably go away when asked to participate in an IME. Participating in an independent medical examination can be extremely stressful, and many people unknowingly say things that devalue their claim either in the exam or in response to being asked to participate in the IME. Usually, the best course of action is to involve a Douglasville car accident attorney as early into the claim process as possible.

An attorney can certainly help prepare you for an IME and understand why there are any questions with the medical testing and assessment you’ve already had done. At John B Jackson, we understand that it’s difficult to be the victim in a claim because everyone is questioning you. We believe you, we understand that your injuries are serious and require medical attention. We are here to help support you through the claim process and every process that happened as a result of the claim such as an IME.