The 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 personal 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 five 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 less than twenty minutes long – playing the complete exam for the jury is a powerful tool, as twenty minutes or so is an inadequate amount of time to perform a legitimate examination.