The Myth of the Independent Medical Examiner: Why You Should Talk to an Attorney Before an Exam
When you’re injured in an auto accident, you should seek immediate medical attention. Failing to do so within 14 days could cost you your personal injury protection (PIP). Even if you make the prudent move and get treated, you may be asked by the other party’s insurance company to undergo an independent medical exam (IME). While an IME sounds innocuous enough, you should approach it with extreme caution. Given that doctors who perform IMEs are selected and paid by the insurance companies, there’s nothing particularly independent about them.
The goal of an IME is to cast doubt on the validity of your medical claims. Insurance companies aren’t asking you to seek medical attention so they can give you more money. Much like anything you say to police after an arrest, anything you say to a so-called independent medical examiner can and will be used against you. Even if the examiner has no malicious intent, the nature of the system creates a conflict of interest, and it does not work in your favor. As such, you should be on guard when you arrive at the exam.
The insurance companies have the legal right to ask for an IME. If and when they do, you should contact an experienced auto accident attorney before acting further. A lawyer can tell you how to approach an IME so as not to unwittingly hurt your claim. An off-handed comment is all it takes for an examiner to dispute the severity of your injury and if it was actually caused by the accident and not another source. The insurance company will use any avenue they can to minimize your claim, and an IME is certainly one of them. If you give them an inch, they’ll take as much money as they can.
Calling these exams and the people who perform them independent is a dangerous misnomer designed to give you a false sense of security regarding their hidden objective. Remember that insurance companies make money by minimizing the value of your claim or outright denying it. So, what do you think their actions — whether they call them independent or not — serve to do?
If you are injured in a car accident, call our firm at (813) 259-0022 to speak to an experienced attorney who can help you with every aspect of the claims process.