If you are injured in a car accident and file a claim, whichever insurance company (the other driver’s or yours if you file a no-fault claim) will be covering your medical costs may ask you to undergo an independent medical examination or IME for short.
Although you were likely seen by emergency room physicians and your family doctor, the insurer will probably want a second opinion to confirm that your injuries are as severe as presented in your claim. They may also be looking for more information about your level of disability and projected need for future treatment.
You are required to attend the IME, as the insurer has the right to have you examined by a doctor of their choosing. Failure to appear for the examination could have a negative impact on your case and even result in loss of your benefits.
What happens at an IME?
Unlike a visit to your doctor or the emergency room, the physician carrying out the IME is not providing medical treatment. Before the exam begins, you will likely be asked to fill out a questionnaire and supply details about any prior injuries or new symptoms connected to your recent ones.
IME exams are generally conducted quickly and intended to confirm the extent of your disability and the type of treatment you are likely to need in the future. The doctor will check for any inconsistencies between your reported injuries and behavior. If the insurer obtained video surveillance of you, the doctor might also view it to help form an opinion.
If you claim that the accident affected various aspects of your health, you may have to undergo more than one IME. For example, if you are being treated by an orthopedic surgeon and a psychiatrist (the latter to help you cope with the mental trauma), the insurance carrier may ask for IMEs from their chosen medical experts in these respective fields.
After the IME
Once the IME concludes, the doctor creates a report and transmits it to both sides, usually within ten days. If their conclusion and recommended treatment plan vary from those of your doctor, the insurer will usually initiate a hearing to revisit the benefits you are claiming. If both sides cannot reach an agreement, the next step is litigating the case.
A New York personal injury attorney is your best asset before, during, and after the IME. They will advise you on your rights (for example, you are not legally obligated to follow the IME’s advice) and advocate for you by obtaining medical evidence to counter any conclusions that harm your position. Their goal is to get you the compensation needed to recover and rebuild your life. Jayson Lutzky is an accident and personal injury lawyer practicing law in New York State. He has an office in the Bronx and offers free in-person consultations. Home and hospital visits may be available in the event of a serious injury. Call 718-329-9500 to set up an appointment.