Lyons Snyder & Collin. Trial Attorneys.


Is an Independent Medical Exam Really “Independent”?

By Philip M. Snyder

The Fort Lauderdale accident attorneys at Lyons, Snyder & Collin, P.A. are frequently asked questions about Independent Medical Exams (“IME”) in the context of an automobile accident or slip and fall case. An insurance company, whether you’re own, or an adverse insurance company (meaning the insurance company that represents the interests of the person who is responsible for your injuries) has the right to compel you to attend an IME. This exam, performed by a medical doctor, is intended to evaluate the injuries you sustained from the accident or incident in order to aid the insurance company. According to the dictionary definition, independent means the following:  not influenced or controlled by others in matters of opinion, conduct, etc.; thinking or acting for oneself: an independent thinker. That being said, and to be very clear, an IME paid for by an insurance company, is far from independent!

Independent, not so fast!     

Insurance companies often employ “professional expert witnesses”, that is, doctors who earn a large portion of their living, most often hundreds of thousands of dollars each year, on the witness stand or performing IME’s. These doctors are particularly motivated to make findings that align with the expectations and needs of the insurance companies that pay their salaries. The motivation of these doctors, or should I say professional witness, is clear, minimize your injury! The most common opinion(s) by these doctors is that your injury was preexisting or that “your subjective complaints of pain” are not objectively substantiated by their physical exam – more plainly, you are a liar.

The Fort Lauderdale accident and injury attorneys at Lyons, Snyder & Collin are skilled in exposing the inherent bias and motivation of these doctors. For example, the most obvious way to discredit the truth and veracity of these doctors is to follow the money! Our accident and injury attorneys often expose these doctors by uncovering their IRS form 1099’s, a federal tax filing that specifically details the annual amount each insurance company has paid the doctor for their professional services. It is certainly nice at trial to tell the jury that this doctor, whom the insurance company would have you believe, has been paid in excess of two hundred thousand dollars the previous year from performing IME’s and testifying against the injured. Another tool often used by our personal injury attorneys is to have the IME videotaped.  IME’s are usually twenty minutes long – playing the complete exam for the jury is a powerful tool, as twenty minutes is an inadequate time to perform a legitimate examination.

Proper Preparation is Key

There is only one way to go into an Independent Medical Examination, no matter who is performing it. Thorough preparation and education of the process is required. The Fort Lauderdale accident and injury lawyers at Lyons, Snyder & Collin always meet with every client, if possible, well in advance of the IME and go over all prior relevant medical records. No previous medical treatment or the circumstances of how the accident occurred should be overlooked as the IME doctor will certainly ask the client about it during the independent medical examination. An innocent lapse of memory by the client when questioned by the doctor about the “how accident occurred”, “symptoms the injury produced”, or “former and current treatment modalities” can be all the doctor needs to conclude that the client is trying to hide something and that the claim is illegitimate. The Fort Lauderdale accident and injury attorneys at Lyons, Snyder & Collin will make sure that you are as prepared as possible to ensure that your claim is not jeopardized.