If you were involved in a car accident in Michigan and filing a claim, you could be asked to submit to an independent medical exam (IME) requested by the insurance company.
What Is The purpose of an Independent Medical Exam?
Insurance companies typically require claimants to undergo a medical evaluation by a doctor to determine whether to pay or deny insurance benefits.
Insurance companies hire these doctors to issue an opinion that is favorable to the defense. Some even earn millions just to help insurance companies dispute liability during litigation.
On paper, the purpose of an independent medical exam is to:
- Describe the current condition of the victim.
- Evaluate the severity of the victim’s injuries.
- Determine whether the injury was caused by the vehicular accident.
- Determine whether current medical treatment is appropriate and reasonable.
- Determine whether the victim can return to work.
- Recommend other tests for the victim.
- Provide a prognosis for recovery.
However, this medical exam is not truly “independent” as it is often designed to undermine the case and deny or reduce the benefits owed to the victim.
Who Performs Independent Medical Exams?
The type of doctor selected for the exam is based on the injuries of the victim. For example, if the victim of a car accident is being treated by a neurosurgeon for a traumatic brain injury (TBI), then the IME will be conducted by another neurosurgeon.
If the victim is being treated by different specialists for multiple injuries, the insurance company may request multiple IMEs with different doctors.
What If I Refuse To Attend The IME?
You cannot simply ignore an IME request. Failure to attend could result in the dismissal of your pending case or denial of your benefits.
According to Michigan Court Rules (MCR 2.311), the defendant can ask you to submit to a physical or mental examination by a doctor chosen by the defense lawyer.
If you do not attend the IME, it would result in a breach of your insurance contract and a violation of the Michigan no-fault law.
If you receive a notice to appear for an IME, talk to your lawyer right away to avoid any mistakes.
What To Do During An Independent Medical Exam
Your personal injury attorney will guide you through the process of an IME. Here are a few reminders when attending an independent medical exam.
- Bring someone with you – preferably your lawyer – to sit in and take notes during the exam.
- Show up on time for your appointment and dress appropriately.
- The doctor might ask you to fill out a questionnaire. DO NOT write anything without consulting your lawyer.
- Go through all of the tests.
- If the doctor asks you about the accident, DO NOT answer. That is what the accident report is for, which should be given by the insurance company to the doctor in advance.
- If the doctor asks about your medical history, answer truthfully. Do not worry if you have any pre-existing conditions. Your lawyer will take care of that at trial.
- NEVER volunteer any information during the exam. It is not your job to assist the insurance company doctor.
- If the doctor asks that you submit to an invasive test, politely refuse and let them know that you wish to consult your lawyer first. Many courts will not require that you undergo any invasive tests.
A copy of the independent medical exam will be sent to you or your lawyer a few weeks later. Review everything and check for inaccuracies. If the doctor lied, your attorney could take this information to the court when it is time to take the examiner’s testimony.
Keep in mind that the IME doctor is not impartial. The purpose of the medical examination is not to treat your injuries but to provide favorable findings for the insurance company.
Experienced personal injury lawyers are accustomed to these negative reports. They would know how to prove the unfair bias of the examiner. Most judges recognize this bias, too.
Call The Clark Law Office If You Receive An IME Notice
Contact The Clark Law Office immediately if you are asked to attend an independent medical examination and do not have a lawyer. One of our experienced personal injury attorneys will prep you for your IME appointment so you know what to expect.
The Clark Law Office specializes in personal injury cases, including car accidents, birth injuries, slip and fall, workplace accidents, dog bites, and medical malpractice. Book a consultation today on this contact form, and we will be happy to answer all your questions about independent medical exams.
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