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The Bottom Line on Independent Medical Examinations
Some might scoff at the term “independent” when used in conjunction with medical examinations. IMEs are either requested by insurance companies or defense counsel. Their purposes are generally twofold. In some cases, in an independent medical examination is used to determine if further medical treatment is necessary. IMEs are also used to determine the extent of damages suffered from an accident.
When to Expect an Independent Medical Examination
An independent medical examination may be ordered at various times during a personal injury accident claim. The doctor who evaluates your case for the insurance company is usually not the same physician who provides medical treatment. Here are some scenarios where you may be asked early on to submit to an IME:
- Your Own Insurance Carrier: If you have been involved in an automobile accident, your medical bills may be covered by the Personal Injury Protection (PIP) portion of your policy. You may be asked to submit to an independent medical examination to determine if your injuries are related to the accident. Or, the insurance company may want information regarding the likelihood that you have reached maximum medical benefit. The purpose is to determine whether they will provide medical bill payment.
- Workers’ Compensation: An IME may be ordered for the same reasons cited above. It should be noted that the workers’ compensation carrier has the right to select treating physicians. In many cases, an independent medical examination is not ordered until the claimant has been released from treatment.
We used the term “maximum medical benefit”. This means that there is an expectation that even if you have more medical treatment, you won’t get better. IMEs are also used to determine if a medical expert agrees with a treating physician’s recommendation for surgery.
The concept of waiting for an independent medical examination until medical treatment has concluded is not unique to work related accidents. If you are pursuing a claim against someone who caused you to be injured in a car crash, their insurance company will almost always request an IME. The same is true for premises liability cases and other types of personal injury matters.
Basic Protocol for Independent Medical Examinations
Your attorney’s office will supply you with information regarding your independent medical exam. You should arrive on time and follow your attorney’s instructions. Here’s some basic information you may find helpful:
- If you are instructed to take along x-rays or other films, do so. If you’re not sure, ask your attorney if you should have them available. Films and records may already have been provided in advance of your visit.
- Be truthful, and don’t exaggerate your injuries. You should also not downplay your pain.
- If you are asked about preexisting conditions, be honest.
- Provide all requested information regarding your medical treatment.
- Make a note about the amount of time the doctor spends with you, as well as the nature of the exam.
- Report back to your attorney if you have any concerns about the independent medical exam.
Were you injured in any type of accident? Are you concerned about pursuing a claim? At the Law Offices of Beninato & Matrafaljo, we have decades of experience handling personal injury cases. Contact our office to learn your rights.