If you’ve been injured in an auto accident, your attorney may be involved in negotiations with the other party’s insurance company as you undergo treatment. Out of nowhere, you’re notified that you are to participate in an independent medical examination. What is this and how can it help or hurt your claim?
It’s important to have an aggressive and proactive attorney advocating for you throughout this process. Call Burns, Cunningham & Mackey at 800-574-4332 to set up a time to talk about your claim and how you can prepare for an IME.
What is an Independent Medical Examination?
An independent medical examination, or IME, is a review of your medical limitations and progress by a third-party medical provider. On paper, an IME is intended to provide a neutral look at your injuries and provide insight to the insurance company. In practice, an IME is used to question an applicant’s injuries, poke holes in their claims, and stop payments.
If you’re going through a personal injury claim or receiving disability payments through workers’ compensation and you are notified that you must attend an IME, it’s important to know how this can be used against you and what your next steps should be.
Why an Insurance Company Will Request an IME
The insurance company may phrase their request for an IME in such a way that it sounds like they simply want verification of your disability or injury. Don’t be fooled.
They are not trying to verify your injury—they are trying to question it and find any reason they can to stop or prevent payments. The insurance company doesn’t really need a legitimate reason to request an IME. They are legally permitted to request one whenever they choose, and they’ll often do so if they either suspect that your injuries are falsified or if they fear that your injuries are getting too expensive for them.
How an IME Can Work Against You
First, it’s important to note that an IME cannot really help your case. Insurance companies will order one if they think it can hurt your case, but in the best-case scenario, an IME will simply maintain the status quo.
The best outcome of an IME is that the insurance company sees that you are still injured or disabled and that they have no grounds to stop payments. This is fairly uncommon, though, as insurance companies know how to make IMEs go in their favor. Remember, they spend a lot of time and money figuring out how to pay as little money as possible. They know which doctors they can request and which care providers favor insurers or employers over injured victims or employees.
Protecting Yourself Against an Unfair IME
It’s incredibly important to make sure that you take an IME seriously. The doctor isn’t just looking over your records and statements to see if you’re injured. They are judging you at every single step of the interaction, from what you wear and how you get into the office to your demeanor and how much you talk.
Consider, for example, an accident victim with a knee injury. If they show up to their IME wearing heels, this will look suspicious to the doctor and will likely be noted in the IME report. If a victim is in too high of spirits and doesn’t seem negatively affected by their injuries, that too will work against them.
The best way to protect yourself in an IME is to talk to your personal injury attorney. This isn’t the first IME your attorney has been through, and they know what you’re up against.
They will help you know how to answer questions in a concise way, avoid anything that will make you look suspicious, and help you practice the questions you’ll be asked in an IME. As soon as you are notified that the insurance company is requesting an IME, reach out to your lawyer immediately.
Contact Burns, Cunningham & Mackey for Help with Your Claim
At Burns, Cunningham & Mackey, we are committed to fighting on behalf of victims like you. We know that the insurance industry prevents victims like you from getting the compensation they deserve, and we’re here to help. Schedule a consultation with our team now by calling us at 800-574-4332 or sending us a message online.