Preparing for an IME after a Car Accident
If you’ve been injured in a car accident and have made a claim for damages, the insurance company might ask you to submit to an independent medical examination (IME). While the word “independent” stands out, this is a misnomer because the exam is not being requested by a disinterested party.
Since the insurance company that is ordering the exam will be the one to pay damages, they have an interest in the outcome. Often, the same physicians are used repeatedly in this process because the insurance companies know that they will tell them what they want to hear. A defense doctor might conclude that your injuries weren’t caused by the accident, your injuries aren’t as serious as you claim, or that you don’t have any injuries at all.
Even though IMEs are not independent, you are still required to cooperate and attend the examination. If your claim is legitimate, you will prevail, but there are still several ways that you can protect yourself during this process. If you are scheduled for an IME after a car accident, here are several tips to help you prepare:
- Arrive early. Don’t be late for your appointment. Not only is this rude, but it sets a negative tone from the outset and takes away from your scheduled time, which could be used as an excuse by the defense.
- Dress appropriately. While you don’t need to dress up for an IME, it’s a good idea to come freshly showered and well-groomed, wearing clean and appropriate clothing.
- Bring someone with you. If you are nervous, see if you can get a friend or relative to come with you to your IME appointment. If there is ever a dispute about what was said or what occurred, you will have someone else who can testify about the event.
- Stay on guard. Your IME appointment begins well before you come face-to-face with a physician. You can reasonably expect that you are being watched by office staff from the moment that you leave your vehicle in the parking lot until you depart at the end of the visit. (You might even be videotaped!) The purpose of this is to see if the way you move and act in the parking lot and waiting room is consistent with how you act in front of the doctor and other medical staff.
- Know your history. The IME doctor already has your medical records, so you should also be as familiar as possible with your own medical history. If you need reminders of dates, locations, or anything else, bring along some notes.
- Cooperate. It would be a mistake to take a negative attitude into an IME. The doctor and their staff are only doing their jobs. Being combative or arguing with a doctor is not going to result in a positive outcome.
- Be honest. Lying to an IME doctor isn’t going to help your situation. In fact, it could damage your case. If a doctor asks you about prior injuries or conditions, you can point out several things:
- Any new or different symptoms that didn’t exist previously;
- Increased limitations or pain after this injury; and
- Whether intermittent pain before the injury has now become constant.
Avoid exaggerating your injuries during an exam. Be honest about your level of pain and avoid gasping in agony with every touch. This sort of behavior generally isn’t credible.
- Don’t volunteer. Answer the questions that you are asked but avoid volunteering information about your condition or your case. Don’t speak about your personal injury lawsuit or areas of your life that involve physical activity such as hobbies or sports. Also, don’t agree to x-rays or other medical tests without first consulting with your attorney.
These are just a few of the tips that we provide to clients who are asked to attend an IME. If you’ve been injured in a car accident, there is a lot at stake, and it is always recommended that you speak with a qualified personal injury attorney as soon as possible.
There are many ways that an insurance company will attempt to compromise your right to full and fair compensation, and our goal at Buck, Toscano & Tereskerz is to help you collect the financial recovery you deserve from the injuries you have sustained. Contact our Charlottesville office now at 434.977.7977 to schedule your free consultation.