If you recently filed a lawsuit related to an auto accident, the defendant's attorney may ask you to submit to an independent medical examination (IME) to determine the extent of your injuries. Don't let the word "independent" fool you; this type of exam is conducted by a physician of the defendant's choosing, so the examiner may not be all that impartial. If you are concerned about the results of your IME, here are seven ways to protect yourself.
1. Meet with your attorney before your appointment.
Don't submit to an independent medical examination without meeting with your attorney first. A physician who relies on IME referrals for extra income may try to trip you up when asking questions or conducting a physical exam, so it's important to be prepared. Your attorney will explain the IME process and help you prepare answers to the doctor's questions.
2.. Bring a copy of your medical history to the exam with you.
The examiner should ask for your medical history before beginning the exam. If you omit anything about previous injuries or illnesses, the doctor may believe you are not being truthful about your accident-related injuries. Bringing a copy of your medical history with you ensures you won't forget anything important due to nervousness. Be sure to include any work-related injuries or injuries sustained during previous auto accidents.
3. Prepare a written statement regarding your activities on the day of the accident.
The examiner will likely ask you what you did on the day of your accident. It is very important that your account matches the one you gave to the police and the defendant's attorney. It's easy to omit information if it has been several months since the accident or you are nervous about the exam. Write everything down and bring it with you so you don't forget anything.
4. Ask a friend to accompany you to the doctor's office.
You won't be able to take notes during the exam, so ask a friend or to do it for you. Your friend should write down the time the exam starts, the time it ends, and a description of the physical exam. Ask your companion to write down as many of the doctor's questions as possible so you have a record to give your attorney.
5. Do not discuss the examiner's report with anyone but your attorney.
Don't talk to anyone but your attorney at a place like Schiller, Kessler & Gomez, PLC about the exam, especially if you haven't received a copy of the doctor's report yet. This includes insurance adjusters and the defendant's attorney. If you plan to refute the examiner's claims, you don't want to give your legal strategy away to the opposing team.
6. Ask your physician to write a letter in support of your claim.
If the examiner believes you exaggerated your symptoms or did not sustain your injuries in the auto accident, ask your physician to write a letter refuting those claims. This is especially helpful if you have been seeing the same doctor for several years. Your physician will be able to describe your health in the days leading up to the accident and explain how the accident affected your ability to work or engage in normal daily activities.
7. Tell your attorney if you have any concerns about the exam.
Don't hesitate to tell your attorney if something doesn't feel right about the IME. If the examiner did not take your medical history or rushed through the physical exam, there's a chance the IME report is inaccurate. Your attorney may be able to use the information to support your case in court.
The independent medical exam is one of the many tools opposing counsel will use to try to hurt your credibility. Unfortunately, the examining physician may be biased toward the person who is paying the exam fee. If you are concerned about your upcoming IME, call your auto accident attorney immediately.