The Dos and Don’ts of Independent Medical Examinations (IME)
If you have been injured and advance an insurance claim, there is a good chance that your insurer will ask you to attend a medical examination with a doctor or specialist of their choosing. These exams are known as IMEs (Independent Medical Examinations).
However, the term “independent” is misleading, the exam is arranged and paid for by the insurance company. Further, the examining physician receives his or her instructions from the insurer and there is not much about the process that is impartial or independent.
It is in an insurance company’s best interests to pay as little on a claim as possible and so often the results of IMEs downplay or diminish a claimant’s injuries and disabilities. If this is the case, you will likely want to talk to a personal injury lawyer who can intervene on your behalf.
While attending an IME is mandatory, there are some things you should and should not do to protect yourself and preserve your case if it should go to the litigation stage.
- Bring a family member or friend with you. They can help keep you calm and comfortable, and provide extra help in remembering what happened during the exam. You could also ask them to take notes during the exam.
- Write down everything you can remember about the assessment as soon as you have left the office. Try to keep track of how long the exam went, what questions you were asked, and any exams that were performed.
- Bring notes and records from your regular doctor.
- Be polite and pleasant.
- Exaggerate the extent of your pain and symptoms. Keep your answers truthful and concise.
- Be afraid to say “I don’t know”.
- Volunteer information that the doctor doesn’t ask about.
- Participate in small talk with the doctor or staff. You want to keep the appointment completely focused on your medical assessment.
- Be late for the appointment.
- Discuss any financial, legal or insurance issues related to your case with the doctor or staff.
Above all, remember that the IME doctor works for the insurance company. He or she is not your treating doctor and cannot prescribe medication or treatment. Your personal lawyer will be experienced in preparing clients for IMEs and can give you more guidance in relation to the process.