Last Update: 1/14/20
An IME is a common and somewhat controversial tool that insurance companies and insurance defense attorneys use to “evaluate” a personal injury claim.
What is an Independent Medical Examination?
In car accidents as well as other kinds of negligence related accidents (for instance, on the job injuries, slip and fall accidents, etc.), the defense may request that the injured party undergo an Independent Medical Examination (sometimes called an “IME”).
It sounds easy enough: a victim visits an independent doctor or medical specialist so they can provide their expert opinion on the extent of your injury and what care you will need in order to recover from your injuries. It’s like having a second opinion to the opinion given by your medical team.
Which sounds fine, right? Except, when it doesn’t seem fair.
All too often, the IME is performed by a doctor or health care professional who isn’t truly independent. Their opinion will usually be biased against you and for the defendant.
IMEs requested by defense counsel and insurance companies all too often come back with all sorts of attempts to lower your damages by finding ways that you aren’t really hurt as bad as you claim to be (and as your medical team has diagnosed) or by determining that a pre-existing medical condition contributed to your injury or your recovery.
How To Protect Yourself Against an Unfair IME
The Independent Medical Examination, once requested, can be fought by your personal injury attorney on the basis of need, and, in some situations, an order of protection from a judge. A challenge can also be made regarding the particular health care professional performing the IME. If your lawyer knows that the suggested doctor is biased toward the insurance company, then he/she can challenge the use of that doctor for the exam. (There are situations where you will be legally required to undergo an Independent Medical Examination. For instance, Florida’s workers compensation laws may require it for on the job work injuries. — See Rule 1.360 of the Florida Rules of Civil Procedure which allows a party, the defense, to request an IME when the physical condition of a party is in controversy – IME requests happen often in injury lawsuits.)
An IME is One Defense to Your Injury Claim
For injured accident victims, it can be overwhelming and disheartening to learn the extent to which defense teams will go to try and avoid paying compensation to an injured party. Suffering bodily injuries in an accident can be a major life event. Dealing with the aftermath — the lost wages, the pain and suffering, the immediate medical treatment and the long term care — can be a real crisis for the victim and his family.
However, with a strong advocate on your side, the IME can, in some circumstances, be fought and its impact minimized. It’s just one more example of why having an experienced Florida personal injury lawyer on your team when dealing with a Florida accident claim can be so very important for justice.
What Should You Do?
A good piece of advice if you have been harmed in an accident, is to at least speak with an experienced personal injury lawyer before you file a claim to learn about some of the issues that can arise with these claims, including the type of evidence needed to prove a claim and the type and amount of damages you can recover. Most personal injury lawyers, like Alan Sackrin, will offer a free initial consultation (over the phone or in person) to answer your questions.
Do you have questions or comments? Then please feel free to send Alan an email or call him now at (954) 458-8655.