That Independent Medical Exam Isn’t So Independent
When you are in an accident, you go to your doctor. Your doctor’s records, and perhaps your doctor testifying in court, will provide evidence of how injured you are, your medical treatment, and your prognosis for the future.
But the Defendant will also have expert doctors, testifying to the opposite—namely, that you aren’t as injured as you say, and that your future medical prognosis is much better than what your doctor believes that it may be.
But how is that possible? After all, how can a doctor testify about your health or medical condition, when that person isn’t even your treating doctor?
The Independent Medical Examination
The answer is in what is known as an independent medical examination, or IME. During the course of your personal injury lawsuit, the Defendant or the Defendant’s insurance company is allowed to require that you go to see their doctor, so that he or she can evaluate you.
However, there are a few differences between visiting their doctor, and visiting your own doctor.
Why the IME is Different Than Your Doctor
The IME doctor is not seeing you to treat you, or get you better; that doctor is only evaluating you. Also unlike your doctor, who will see you over a period of time, and chart your progress or setbacks, and modify your treatment accordingly, the Defendant’s IME doctor is not there to get you better, and he or she doesn’t see you over a period of time—it is just a one time visit.
The IME doctor is limited in what he or she can do to you during your visit. IME doctors can’t do anything very invasive, like medical procedures on you, the way your doctor can do.
Lastly—and quite importantly—you don’t have confidentiality with the IME doctor, the way you do with your doctor. In fact, everything you tell the IME doctor, and everything that he or she observes about you during your examination, will go into a report, which can be used in trial against you. That means that you should be careful what you say to the IME doctor before your visit (your injury attorney will prepare you on what exactly to expect during your IME visit).
Not So Neutral
Although it is called an “independent” medical exam, it is hardly that. Many of these IME doctors see hundreds of patients every year, sent to them by the same insurance companies or Defendant’s law firms. That means that to get continuing business, it may be in their best interest to evaluate victims as being as healthy as possible.
Many IME doctors also may have extensive experience testifying in court against victims, whereas victims’ doctors spend more of their time actually treating patients.
This is all why it is so important to have a personal injury attorney that knows how to counter IME doctor testimony, and show the jury why your doctor, and not the insurance company’s doctor, should be believed.
We’ll help you every step of the way after your accident. Contact the Tampa personal injury lawyers at Barbas, Nunez, Sanders, Butler & Hovsepian if you are in any kind of car accident. Schedule a consultation today.