Independent Medical Examinations
When you file a personal injury claim, part of the requirement to win your case is to prove that the other party caused your injuries. You must prove how your injuries occurred as well as their impact on your life. Meanwhile, the other party investigates your allegations to gather evidence in opposition to your claim.
As part of the process, the other party might request that you undergo an independent medical examination (IME). A neutral physician or specialist conducts the examination. The purpose is to obtain an evaluation of your medical condition from a doctor that is not working for either side in the lawsuit.
Am I Required To Consent to an Independent Medical Examination for My Personal Injury Case?
Insurance companies typically do not request independent medical examinations (IMEs) during the pre-trial phase of a personal injury case. Instead, your personal injury lawyer and the insurance adjuster negotiate to settle your claim based on the medical records from your treating physicians.
However, if you file a personal injury lawsuit, the attorneys hired by the insurance company will likely ask that an independent medical examiner examines you. The courts typically grant these requests. Therefore, failing to attend the IME could hurt your personal injury case.
IMEs are not requested in all personal injury cases. Situations that often trigger a request for an IME include, but are not limited to:
- You have multiple medical conditions after an accident or personal injury. For example, you claim to have sustained a spinal cord injury, traumatic brain injury, and hearing loss.
- The parties dispute causation and liability for your injuries.
- You are demanding a significant amount for economic and non-economic damages.
- Your condition changed significantly throughout your case.
- You did not seek prompt medical attention after the injury or accident.
- You claim that your injury prevents you from performing any type of work (i.e., total disability).
- Your condition is difficult to prove through diagnostic means such as imagining tools
The independent medical examination evaluates your current condition to determine the severity of your injuries. The doctor also documents the types of injuries you sustained because of the accident or other incident.
Being honest and forthcoming with the doctor conducting the IME is essential. You do not want to exaggerate injuries or make up injuries because the doctor could tell that you were lying, which hurts your credibility.
Remember, nothing you say to the doctor during an IME is confidential. Anything you tell an IME doctor could be used against you in court.
Therefore, do not discuss the details of the cause of the accident unless it is essential to explain how you were injured. As always, you never want to admit fault for causing the accident, but you also do not want to appear to be using the examination to complain about the other party. The focus of the IME should be on your injuries and evaluating your condition.
Your Gainesville personal injury attorney will prepare you for the IME. The attorney can explain what to expect during the IME so that you are not surprised by some of the doctor’s questions or statements.
What Are Your Rights During an Independent Medical Examination After a Personal Injury?
Even though you must go through the IME for your personal injury case, you have rights. Unfortunately, you might not have the right to choose the doctor who performs the IME. Therefore, it is important to understand your rights regarding the examination:
- Your attorney may attend the IME with you.
- The defendant has to pay for the cost of the independent medical examination.
- The IME must take place relatively close to where you live.
- The defendant cannot force you to undergo another IME if they do not like the examination results.
- You have the right to review all records from the IME, including the doctor’s written report, recommendations, diagnosis, and conclusions.
- You have the right to correct factual mistakes made by the doctor conducting the examination.
- You have the right to review correspondence between the IME doctor and the insurance provider about your injuries.
You can dispute the findings from an independent medical examination if they differ from those of your treating physicians. Your personal injury lawyer might retain medical specialists and expert witnesses to review the medical records or conduct additional testing. Your experts can offer testimony in court refuting the findings of the independent medical examination and explain why the IME doctor’s findings are incorrect.
Schedule a Free Consultation With Our Gainesville Personal Injury Lawyers
Being injured in an accident or other incident can be frightening. To be told that you must undergo an examination by a strange physician can add to the stress. We are here to help.
Contact our law firm at Allen Law Firm, P.A. to schedule a free consultation with one of our experienced Gainesville personal injury attorneys. Call us now at (877) 255-3652, we provide you with support, guidance, and legal advice as we fight to get you the money you deserve.