After you have been hurt in a car accident and have begun the process of making a personal injury claim, there is a good chance that you will receive a request for an independent medical examination (IME). Is this something that you need to comply with? There are some situations where you may not be required to. Here’s what you should be aware of after your accident, including when you may be obligated to have a medical examination, when you may not be, and how to get legal help now.
Undergoing an Independent Medical Examination
When you saw the doctor after your accident, it is likely that you saw the physicians on staff at the nearest hospital, or maybe you visited your personal or family doctor. Either way, this began the basis of your case with the diagnosis and treatment of your injuries, and the launching point for your injury claim. In many situations, the opposing party may request that you have an IME. The IME is intended to be performed by a neutral physician to provide evidence about whether you really have the injury or condition that you claim you do.
Whether you are required to comply depends upon your specific legal situation, so ask your attorney before you agree to go to an IME. If you claim is still in the early stages and your attorney is in the process of negotiating a settlement, then you may not be required to attend. However, if a settlement agreement cannot be reached and a lawsuit begins, the state of Texas does allow the opposing party to request one, and you are legally obligated to attend. But be sure to consult with your attorney before you go, as he or she can make sure that you are required to attend and offer some advice on how to proceed in a way that protects your rights.
Keep in mind that the opposing party (usually an insurance company) is allowed to choose the independent medical examiner. Even though it’s called an “independent” medical examination, the truth is that these doctors are often on the payroll of the insurer and their intent is to provide evidence against your claim, not to help make your case. In other words, the IME physician is not your friend, so be aware that the usual confidentiality between physician and patient does not exist in an IME. The evidence that they gather, including the examination, test results, and anything you say, can and will be transmitted to the insurance company.
Protecting Your Rights at an IME
There are some rules designed to protect your interests at the IME. For instance, since anything you say or do can be—and most likely will be—transmitted to the opposing party, you have the right to have your attorney in attendance at the examination. You also have a right to a copy of the report that the IME doctor sends to the opposing party, as well as any correspondence between the doctor and the insurer about your injury. If there are any factual or other errors made in the report, you have the right to correct or dispute them, as well. You should also be aware that:
- You should not be asked to pay for the examination. Since the IME was requested by the insurance company, it is their responsibility to pay, not yours.
- You should not be asked to travel a long distance. Again, since this is at the request of the opposing party, it is not considered reasonable to force you to travel a long distance.
- You should not be asked for a second IME for the same condition. If the insurer doesn’t care for the results of an IME, that’s tough luck for them. They are not allowed to “shop” for a favorable opinion by bouncing you through multiple doctors for the same condition until someone comes up with a result that the insurer likes more.
If you are legally required to attend a requested IME but you do not go, it is likely that your case will be dismissed, but talk to your attorney before you go to be sure that it is obligatory. When you arrive, you do not need to exaggerate or underplay your injury. Just be honest and direct with the doctor. However, it is usually best to not volunteer any extra information that is not asked of you, and if you are unsure, remember that you can request that your attorney attend the examination with you.
Get Legal Help Today
The prospect of an independent medical examination can seem daunting, but with experienced legal representation at your side, you will make it through the process and move to the next step in your lawsuit.
The attorneys at Wayne Wright LLP are here to provide the legal representation that you need after an injury caused by negligence, recklessness, or wrongdoing. We work hard to help victims seek the compensation you are owed in a court of law for your medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other expenses related to the accident, and we will be there when you and your family need us the most.
To arrange a free, no-obligation consultation with an experienced legal professional at Wayne Wright LLP, call us by phone today, use our online contact form to send an email, or click the live chat box on this page right now.