If you have been injured as a result of someoneâ€™s negligence and are in the process of suing for compensation, the defendantâ€™s insurance company may desire that you be examined by a doctor they assign to your case. While your own doctor has already diagnosed the extent of your injuries, the alleged purpose of the Independent Medical Exam (IME ) is to confirm the veracity of your claims.
Given the knowledge that this â€œindependentâ€ physician is working for the insurance company and being paid handsomely for his services, you probably will have suspicions about how â€œindependentâ€ his assessment may be. Within the scope of his role, it is his job to provide evidence that you may be exaggerating your injuries, if not completely fabricating their existence, so that the insurance company can be absolved of the responsibility for a large payout.
While you may have little respect for someone as biased as this doctor, it is still highly important to your case that you coordinate with your attorney regarding the necessity of undergoing this exam. Any resistance on your part could be interpreted as the need to hide something.
Accident victims with even the most obvious and serious medical problems often are subjected to interrogations during an IME in an attempt to discount their claims. Someone with a less serious, yet still legitimate, injury can easily become intimidated by such tactics. During the course of questioning, you may be asked about things which seem off-subject but are purposely used to draw attention to areas of your life meant to tarnish your character or suggest other reasons for your pain. These could include lifestyle issues, previous injuries, smoking, drinking, recreational drug use and other leisure activities. Nonetheless, it is important that you remain as respectful of the process as possible, since your own medical professionals along with any corroborating tests will still provide strong, meaningful testimony to counter the IME.
It is sometimes suggested that you attend the IME with someone who cares about you so they can take notes about what the exam consisted of, how long the doctor spent and what he asked, what you said, and whether he was verbally abusive in any way. This companion can also act as a witness later if needed.
Although the IME most commonly seeks to contradict how badly you have been hurt, sometimes the content of its final report simply cannot refute obvious proof like X-rays showing the before and after of a cervical fusion surgery, or the indisputable disability caused by a limb amputation. When injuries involve complaints of ongoing pain from mysterious causes, the IME physician will usually try to find every way possible to dismiss, belittle or otherwise ridicule your claim. When that happens, only a highly skilled lawyer will be able to shoulder the additional onus of providing bona fide medical arguments to support your claims.