They’re Not Independent; What You Can Do
Sometimes a personal injury victim will be required to see a doctor of the defendant’s choice, who has not been previously involved in the victim’s care, for a medical examination regarding their auto accident-related injuries.
While this may sound completely reasonable, there is one big problem with so-called independent medical examinations (IMEs): More often than not, the doctor is not truly independent, but instead was hired by the insurance company, and is part of an organized effort on the part of the defendant to minimize your injuries and reduce your recovery.
Who IME Doctors Really Work For
While some doctors perform independent medical examinations occasionally as a part of their community service efforts, many physicians perform hundreds of such exams each year for the insurance industry, and IMEs are a major part of their medical practice.
Because these doctors are paid extremely well by insurance companies to point out weaknesses in a plaintiff’s case, they predictably formulate opinions, write reports, and provide testimony biased in favor of the defense and against the injured person. An IME is never intended to provide you with additional medical treatment or a second opinion regarding your condition.
What Happens During an IME?
During an independent medical examination, if the plaintiff is not completely accurate in describing his injuries or if there are any inconsistencies between what he says and what is contained in his medical records, certain aspects of his condition could be called into question and potentially discredited, including:
- Medical history
- Present illness
- Cause of condition
- Subjective complaints
- Physical examination
- Laboratory testing
- Treatment history
IME doctors routinely write reports denying that there is any pathological condition whatsoever. If there is an obvious injury that cannot be dismissed, they typically try to link it to a pre-existing condition or any cause other than the incident at the heart of the litigation. If all else fails, they will do whatever they can to minimize the extent of the injury.
Despite the one-sidedness of an IME, it is important that you arrive early and be honest, polite, and helpful during the exam, trying to communicate all the information that you believe is relevant to your injury. Even though IME doctors work for the defense, they are still professionals bound by certain ethical standards and will not be allowed to mistreat you in any way.
Beating an IME Doctor at His Own Game
When a plaintiff is required to submit to an independent medical exam, he must go to the appointment completely prepared by meeting with his attorney to go over all prior yet relevant medical records and overlooking nothing, no matter how small or insignificant the information might appear to be. Your personal injury attorney might ask you to emphasize certain aspects of your injury and not address other issues during the examination and take careful notes afterward, or provide a timeline of the process to help strengthen your case.
Careful preparation with an experienced Colorado personal injury attorney will help an injured person avoid the familiar pitfalls of an unfavorable, inaccurate, or inconsistent medical history, and receive fair compensation for his injuries.