Auto Accident Lawyer Trenton, NJ

Insight from an Auto Accident Lawyer Trenton, NJ

What is an independent medical exam?

auto accident lawyer trenton NJWhen a person has been injured in an accident and needs medical treatment, the extent of the injury will be a central focus.  The parties responsible for the injury, or the insurance companies paying for the treatment may seek to dispute the need for care or the extent of the injury and may hire an “independent” doctor to examine the injured person.  This is an “independent medical examination”, or IME.  As a skilled Trenton, NJ auto accident lawyer can explain, this is more properly called a defense examination, as the goal is to resolve the opponant’s questions about your injury or medical condition, as well as, the necessary treatment, and the possibility of permanent impairment, in a manner favorable to the insurance company or defendant; not the injured person.

Who Can Request an IME?

In general, any of the following most commonly request IME’s:

Who Chooses the Doctor for an Independent Medical Exam?

In theory, independent medical exams should provide an “objective” assessment of your injury or condition. The goal is to:

Whether you IME is actually objective will be dependent on how the doctor is chosen, and how that doctor is aligned with the defendant or requesting carrier.  As an experienced personal injury lawyer in Trenton, NJ can tell you, many of these exams are performed by doctors who are essentially on the insurance company’s payroll and who rarely, if ever, provide a neutral and objective opinion.

The rules governing IME’s vary from state-to-state. In general when an insurance company requests an IME, they will also choose the doctor. This has caused significant controversy because these doctors are being paid by the insurance company; therefore, there is a risk of subjective opinions and biases. Furthermore, it would be in the doctor’s benefit to reduce the insurers costs by minimizing the extent of your injury or illness, as well as, the need for treatment. Depending on the state you are in, you may be able to request a second IME if the first gives an opinion in conflict with your own treating doctor and with which you do not agree.  However, you generally do not have a right to refuse the examination, as it is generally a condition of your right to have the insurance company pay for your medical treatment or of the right to prosecuteyour legal claim.

What You Should Know About an Independent Medical Exam

Before you undergo an independent medical exam, there are a few things you should consider carefully:

  1. Be prepared to answer questions. During the exam, the doctor will likely ask you questions about your medical history, how the injury or condition occurred, and what treatment you have received. Conflicting information about this history may jeopardize your rights or your case.  If you have a lawyer, you should discuss how to deal with this for your particular case and whether it is a good idea to have this information written down beforehand so that it is as accurate as possible.  
  2. An IME is not private or confidential. It is very important to keep in mind that the conversation you have with the doctor of the exam will not be kept confidential. Unlike a typical patient-physician conversation, anything you say to the “IME” doctor, as well as anything that a doctor observes, could be used in court and will be conveyed to 3rd parties.
  3. The doctor may review your medical records first. The doctor performing the examination will likely be sent any relevant medical records or other documentation, possibly including the accident report. The doctor may also review details about the emergency care you were given, and will likely scrutinize these reports for anything which conflicts with your reported complaints or history.  The person requesting the IME (usually a lawyer or insurance company), may also send a letter to the doctor beforehand containing a summary of what happened, and specific questions they want the doctor to ask you.  It will therefore be very important that you are prepared to give accurate information about your medical history and that you chose your words carefully.
  4. A draft is sent to all parties. After the IME has been performed, the doctor will draft a report and send it to all involved parties. You can ask for a copy of the report to evaluate its accuracy. If you’re unsure about anything in the report, or have concerns about your IME, you should speak with an experienced accident lawyer.

Have You Been Asked to Undergo an IME?

Regardless of what your situation circumstances might be, if you have been asked to partake in an independent medical examination, you should call the lawyers at Davis & Brusca, LLC to help insure your rights are proteced.   Davis & Brusca are proud to be the auto accident lawyer Trenton, NJ relies on.  We can help.

Schedule a consultation with one of the dedicated lawyers at Davis & Brusca, LLC