Understanding Independent Medical Examinations (IMEs)
The value of your personal injury claim is based on the extent of the harm you suffered. The more serious or permanent the injuries, the higher the value. The more the incident of negligence altered your life, the greater the value of your claim.
In other words, much is riding on the source of your injuries, the extent of your recovery, and the bearing they will have on your future. It would therefore seem reasonable for the defendant and their liability insurer to ask that your injuries be examined by someone other than your treating physician, and they have the legal right to do so.
These are called independent medical examinations (IMEs), but they are far from independent. That is why it is vital that you understand what IMEs are and the role they play in your personal injury claim.
If you are the victim of someone else’s negligence in Trinidad, Lone Tree, Castle Rock, Castle Pines, Denver, or Douglas County, Colorado, Landy Law, P.C. is here to help.
What Is an Independent Medical Examination (IME)?
Independent medical examinations are examinations performed by licensed healthcare providers who are not the providers who have treated an injury victim. In fact, there is no traditional doctor-patient relationship between the independent medical examiner and the person being examined. The theory is that the examiner is providing an assessment of the physical and/or mental health claims being made by the injury victim.
Typically, the IME is requested by the insurance company that holds the defendant’s liability coverage policy. They have a legal right to make the request, and you have the legal obligation to comply.
The insurance company hires the independent medical examiner, who must be qualified to perform this role. Qualifications include being licensed to practice in the field of the injuries you have suffered and being licensed in the State of Colorado. Although your personal injury attorney can object to the examiner hired by the insurer, the choice is up to the insurer.
Who Needs an IME?
IMEs are frequently requested in personal injury cases. When they are requested, the insurance company usually purports to schedule the exam to verify the voracity of the damages you are claiming. Insurance companies usually work with the same independent medical examiners routinely.
Those who need IMEs, in their opinion, are injury victims whose treating physicians have judged them to have reached maximum medical improvement (MMI) from their injuries. MMI does not mean you have recovered from your injuries to the extent that you are the same as you were prior to the accident. It means you have completed all possible treatment and have recovered to the extent possible, even if that is far from your pre-accident condition.
What Happens During an IME?
What happens during an IME depends on what the insurance company is calling into question. The IME may include any or all of the following:
A comprehensive review of all of your medical records submitted as documentation or in the discovery process;
A physical exam, lab tests, and/or psychological evaluation;
An interview by the examiner in which questions about your past experiences and medical history are asked;
An interview about your current health status to see how it correlates with your medical records; and,
Interviews with third parties about your injuries. For example, if you claim an injury that affects the frequency of sex you used to have with your partner, the examiner may ask your partner questions about the allegation.
Following the IME, the examiner drafts a report of their findings as they relate to the claims you have made in your personal injury case. They submit the report to the insurance company that hired them. The insurer, in turn, uses the report to cast doubt on the veracity of your allegations.
The insurer will use the report as leverage in settlement negotiations or as evidence at trial. The independent medical examiner may also be asked to testify at trial.
Why Should I Work with an Attorney?
Insurance companies tend to work with the same independent medical examiners over and over again. Essentially, those examiners are on the payroll of the insurer, and as such, they work diligently to contrive evidence that can be used by the insurance company to reduce the value of your claim.
When you have an insurance company, its attorneys, and its hired medical professionals all working against you, why would you not have an experienced and aggressive personal injury lawyer working for you?
None of the others are working for your best interests. Only your attorney is.
Serving You With Diligent Care
If you are wondering what you should do if the insurance company requests an IME, we have the answer. Call us. We will help you fully understand the process, prepare for the exam, and refute findings that could compromise your claim.
If you are in Trinidad, Lone Tree, Denver, or other surrounding areas in Colorado, call Landry Law, P.C. now to schedule a free case consultation. Let us be your advocate.