Do Independent Medical Exams Matter in an Injury Claim?
During an injury claim, accident victims may receive requests to attend an independent medical examination (IME). Many injury victims are uncomfortable with the idea of being examined by a different doctor. They may also be concerned that the doctor performing the IME may be on the insurance company’s side. If you have been injured because of another party’s negligence, you may be eligible to seek compensation for your damages. Injury claims can be long and complex, but you do not have to navigate the legal process on your own. At High Stakes Injury Law, our personal injury lawyers in the Las Vegas area are experienced and ready to help. We can also communicate with insurers on your behalf and help prepare you if called to an IME. Learn more about your legal options in a completely free consultation.
What is an Independent Medical Exam?An independent medical exam is, in theory, an objective assessment of your injuries and how long it may take you to recover. The insurance company of the liable party wants a diagnosis from a doctor who is not currently treating you. In practice, the doctor performing the IME is unbiased. However, the reality is something quite different.
Are IME Doctors Biased Against Me?Absolutely. Insurance companies select and pay for the physician who examines you. In fact, the doctor chosen likely has a history of doing IMEs for the same insurer. As a result, the findings of an independent medical examination are most likely to benefit the insurer. So instead of providing an objective assessment of your injuries and prognosis for recovery, the IME doctor is looking for a way to:
- Discredit earlier statements you made about your injuries
- Call your injuries into question, including the extent and severity of the damage
- Find evidence in your medical history that shows your injury was preexisting
- Deny you suffered any injuries in the crash at all
- Help the insurance company to delay, devalue or deny your claim
Do I Have to Attend an Independent Medical Exam?Yes, the court can order plaintiffs to attend an IME under Nevada’s Rules of Procedure Rule 35. According to this rule, a court-ordered request is mandatory if a plaintiff’s physical condition is in doubt. If you did not attend an IME, the court would likely follow up with an order compelling you to do so. That said, the individual selected to examine you must be licensed or certified for the type of examination they will be performing. You must be given advanced notice of your exam, including the time, place and the scope of the exam.
How Do Independent Medical Exams Affect My Injury Claim?An IME is standard in most injury claims today. However, since the examiner is chosen and paid for by the other party’s insurer, it may not be accurate. Your attorney will review elements of the IME report that are either inaccurate or completely in error. He or she will develop a strategy to argue those points to prevent or limit any damage to your claim. The other side must provide you with a full and complete copy of the official report. Review your copy to ensure it contains the doctor’s diagnosis, test results and any other notes related to your exam.
How Do I Prepare if I Am Asked to Attend an IME?If you are working with an attorney, he or she will explain more about the exam and how to prepare for it before your IME takes place. However, there are a few ways you can prepare in advance:
- Dress neatly and avoid clothing that sends the wrong message
- Be polite and courteous, but do not get overly friendly or ramble on
- Show up on time for your appointment
- Remember why you are there from the moment you walk in and until you leave
- Be completely honest when answering questions, but do not say more than necessary
- Do not lie or try to cover-up a preexisting injury or medical condition
- Sign no paperwork while you are in the office – let your attorney look it over first