Crash victims might think the phrase independent medical examination refers to an unbiased, impartial medical evaluation. The word independent might make you think the doctor performing the examination is not going to favor either side over the other.
Unfortunately, these exams are far from independent of the insurance company. Below, Galloway Jefcoat’s Lafayette auto accident attorneys discuss what Louisiana crash victims need to know about these evaluations, including whether you must attend and how to prepare.
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What is an Independent Medical Exam?
An independent medical examination (IME) is a medical evaluation of a personal injury victim by a doctor chosen by an insurance company. Usually, the exam is requested by the at-fault driver’s insurance company. However, your insurance company may request an exam if you are filing a first-party claim with your uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage.
Why Do Insurance Companies Request an IME?
The insurance company would have you believe the examination is an objective assessment of the injuries you suffered in the crash. They may say they want to confirm your treating doctor’s assessment of the severity of your injuries and their relation to the crash.
Some of the other stated goals of an IME may include:
- Determining your long-term prognosis
- Evaluating your ability to return to work
- Determining your current condition
- Recommending further testing or treatment
- Determining if your current treatment is necessary and/or how long the treatment should continue
While the IME doctor is likely to do these things, they are not the main reason the insurance company is requesting the exam.
The truth is that the insurance company wants to find some reason to question your treating doctor’s conclusions. They want an official report that downplays your injuries or says those injuries were not caused by the crash, but by something else. Some victims may be shocked when the doctor performing the IME says he or she does not think you even have an injury.
The IME report may be used to attack your credibility. The insurance company may say the IME doctor’s conclusions are a reason to question statements you previously made about your injuries.
Why an Independent Medical Exam is Not Independent
The insurance company is the party requesting the IME. They do not want the doctor who does the exam to agree with your treating doctor’s assessment of your injuries. They are going to choose a doctor who they think is likely to reach conclusions that favor the insurance company.
There are doctors who regularly perform IMEs for car insurance companies. The reason insurance companies keep using these doctors is because they tend to downplay victims’ injuries.
Are You Required to Attend?
You are required to attend an IME if the insurance company requests that you attend one. If you do not attend, the insurance company is likely within its rights to deny your claim.
Preparing For an Independent Medical Examination
Since you are required to attend, you need to be prepared. That way you can defend your interests during the exam.
The most important step to prepare is to hire an experienced lawyer to help you. At Galloway Jefcoat, we have been taking on insurance companies for many years. We have extensive legal knowledge of the process and how to protect an injured victim’s claim.
We can explain how to answer the doctor’s questions without oversharing information that could hurt your case. We can help prepare you for the questions you may be asked in the examination. We can also explain how to make sure you do not exaggerate your injuries, both when talking about them and when demonstrating your physical limitations.
It is often best to not talk about the accident itself when you are in the examination. You risk saying something that could be used to deny the severity of the crash, or how it caused your injuries.
What if the IME Report Conflicts With Your Treating Doctor’s Report?
This is something that often happens. Our experienced lawyers are prepared for it. Despite your best efforts, the doctor may downplay your injuries. Remember that the doctor was chosen because the insurance company thinks he or she is going to favor their interests.
The good news is that if we are representing you, we know how to challenge an IME report. We can provide detailed medical records backing up your treating doctors’ assessments of your injuries. Evidence about the crash can also help to prove the crash was the cause of your injuries.
Call Us to Discuss Your Car Accident Claim
There are many aspects of a Louisiana car accident case. There are also many ways crash victims can hurt their cases if they try to manage the process on their own.
Galloway Jefcoat is prepared to manage your claim on your behalf, at no upfront cost to you. While the other driver’s insurance company focuses on denying or underpaying your claim, we have the same goal that you do. That goal is recovering maximum compensation.
We have been taking on insurance companies in Louisiana for decades. Check out our case results page to learn about some of the results we have obtained.
Call Galloway Jefcoat to learn more: (337) 984-8020.