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What to Expect During an Independent Medical Exam (IME)

Independent Medical Examination (IME) form on a wooden table.

The independent medical examination (IME) is a necessary, if nerve-wracking, part of many insurance claims. Insurance providers require policyholders to undergo an IME to ensure that they have a qualifying illness or injury appropriate for coverage, and to evaluate the appropriate level of coverage. If you’ve been hurt and are seeking coverage from your auto insurance provider, workers’ compensation insurance provider, health insurance company, or even a liability insurance provider, you might be asked to undergo an IME. If you’re a personal injury or workers’ comp attorney, you know that you will deal with IMEs on a regular basis. Below, we discuss what to expect at your IME. Call an experienced medical expert witness with any questions or for help with a legal matter.

Patients Can Bring a Personal Representative to the IME

Whether you are an injured accident victim or a personal injury lawyer, it’s important to know patient rights with regard to the IME. In many states, the patient is permitted to have a personal representative attend the IME, which can be invaluable in ensuring that the process is unbiased and appropriate. The personal representative can be an attorney, or another individual, such as a nurse.

Having a personal representative present is especially important when the insurance provider has the right to choose the IME provider and picks a doctor who has an ongoing relationship with the insurance provider. The physician may be paid good money to conduct IMEs, and they will not want to ruin their source of income by finding serious ailments or disabilities on a regular basis.

The IME Process

The IME is a medical examination conducted by a third-party, not your treating physician, intended to evaluate your need for healthcare and insurance coverage. In practice, it is much like any other doctor’s appointment. They’ll ask you questions about your injury or illness, they may run a few tests, they’ll review your medical records, and they’ll evaluate your medical situation.

The doctor is looking to evaluate your general health, your specific ailments, whether you have been lying or exaggerating your injuries, and whether any other contributing factors may have caused your injury other than the incident at issue in the case. They’ll prepare at least one report for your matter.

Preparing for Your IME

It’s normal to feel apprehensive or anxious in advance of an IME. To calm your nerves and assuage your fears, the best thing to do is to be prepared. Steps you can take to prepare for your IME include:

  • Prepare ahead of time. Talk to your attorney about what questions you are likely to be asked, including questions about your injury, the accident or other event, your symptoms, your medical history, and other matters. Be ready with concise answers that are accurate but do not harm your case.
  • Arrive early.
  • Understand the examiner’s role. They are supposed to be an impartial, third-party contractor. Their job is to consult on the case, not to be your personal physician; stick to what matters for the instant case. If the insurer or defendant chose the IME provider, remember that they are not necessarily on your side; they may be a hired gun for the insurer.
  • Be positive, honest, and respectful. Do not lie about your injuries or the inciting incident. Answer questions honestly and forthrightly. Be respectful and polite with the IME provider; you do not want to give them any reason to make any unnecessary notes against you. You are not, however, required to volunteer additional information beyond what you are asked.

If you need an experienced, thorough, and successful expert witness in a personal injury, medical malpractice, or product liability case, contact the offices of Neurosurgery Medlegal Services, LLC, at 866-659-8051.

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