What Is an Independent Medical Examination?

What Is an Independent Medical Examination?

September 5, 2019

When you’ve suffered an injury due to someone else’s negligence and are filing a claim with help from a personal injury lawyer in Portsmouth, VA, you may be required by your insurance policy to go through an independent medical examination (IME). What this means is that the insurance company will have you make an appointment with an “independent” third-party physician who will examine you and determine the extent of your injury.

Keep in mind that there is often very little that is “independent” about this physician—they essentially work for the insurance provider, and are therefore incentivized to provide results that are more beneficial for the insurance company than for you, the patient. With this in mind, here are a few tips that can help you to protect yourself during this examination and afterward, particularly if the doctor submits a report that damages your claim:

  • Consider bringing a friend: Have a friend or family member accompany you to the appointment, and allow them to take notes on everything that happens, including the beginning and ending times of the exam, the kinds of questions the doctor asks, the tests performed and other details. This person could eventually act as a witness if you need to challenge the doctor’s findings.
  • Ask for copies: If the insurance adjuster says the doctor’s report minimizes your injuries, you should make sure to ask for a complete, unredacted report before you continue discussing the issue. Be sure to point out of any element of the examination was unfair to you, and tell the adjuster you have a witness who can support your claims.
  • Compare to other reports: It’s a good idea to have your own doctor examine you after you’ve been in an accident as well. You can then compare and contrast the report your IME doctor filled out to the report your personal physician generated about the injuries you sustained. If there are significant differences between the two reports, this should be a clear-cut sign that the IME was conducted by a doctor who is clearly working for the insurer.
  • Inquire about the IME doctor’s history with the insurer: Submit, in writing, a request for the number of IME referrals the insurance company has given over the years to the doctor who conducted your examination, how much money the doctor gets paid for conducting each IME and how many IMEs the doctor performed for plaintiffs’ attorneys in the same period. While you shouldn’t necessarily expect the adjuster to provide you this information, it will at least get the insurance company on the defensive and make them less likely to rely on the inaccurate report during forthcoming settlement negotiations.
  • Talk to an attorney: If you believe you’ve been put through an unfair IME and are having a hard time getting your insurance adjuster to play ball in negotiations, you should speak to a personal injury attorney, who will be well trained in these types of situations.

For more information about independent medical examinations and how to get through them, contact an experienced personal injury lawyer in Portsmouth, VA at Auto Accident Specialists, Inc.

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