Personal Injury Lawsuits 101: the Independent Medical Examination

Personal Injury Lawsuits 101: the Independent Medical Examination

If you were injured because of someone else’s negligence – say, at work or in a car crash – and you decide to pursue a lawsuit, you’ll have to undergo an independent medical examination, or IME. Many people think that seeing their own doctors after an accident will suffice – but the insurance company won’t agree. The company will want its own chosen doctor to examine you, to ensure that you’re not faking an injury, and to see just how little they feel they need to actually pay out.

Watching your every move

First of all, it’s important to know that the doctor who performs the IME is paid for by the insurance company; therefore, that doctor’s only real job is to “side” with the company, NOT with you.

Secondly, the doctor and his/her staff will scrutinize your every move – and not just in the exam room. There is a good chance you’ll be watched in the waiting room, too. Someone will report back to the doctor how you sit in the chair and for how long, how you open a door, how you position yourself to fill out paper work. Once you’re in the exam room, the doctor and nurses will watch how you remove your clothing (if necessary), how you put yourself on the exam table, and how you react to being poked and prodded.

Finally, you should now that everything you say can be used against you. If a doctor asks you “how do you feel?” make sure to clarify what he or she is asking: how do you feel in general? In comparison to before the accident? Right now in the exam room? Find out exactly what the doctor means and then answer truthfully and accordingly.

Advice for the IME

There’s an old saying that the truth on Monday will be the same on Tuesday, because the story doesn’t change. Always tell the truth, no matter what. The insurance company WANTS to trip you up, but if you’re honest about what happened and how you feel, they won’t be able to twist your words.

Aside from that, we recommend you:

  • Be polite and courteous
  • Be on time for your appointment
  • Answer any questions the doctor has about your previous medical conditions or history
  • Provide brief yet accurate explanations for how you feel and how the injury occurred
  • Avoid the instinct to embellish for sympathy – this doctor is NOT your friend
  • If given a questionnaire, ask for a copy for your records

If you’re unsure about the IME process, or if you want more information, give us a call. We’ll be happy to explain it to you and let you know what to expect.