Independent Medical Examinations – A Good Idea Ruined
What could make more sense? Parties to litigation cannot agree on the extent of a claimant’s injuries from an automobile accident, slip and fall, medical malpractice or workplace accident, so an independent physician is asked to prepare an evaluation. It sounds like a good idea and it could have been. The problem is that insurance companies began hiring their own doctors to prepare the evaluation. They called it an “independent medical examination” (IME), but it was neither independent nor a real medical examination.
Many physicians discovered that they could make far more money writing these IME’s than treating patients and with considerably less aggravation. Some of them even gave up treating patients to focus solely on this work. The result is that there is a whole industry dedicated to the writing of IME’s for insurance companies. The good idea has been ruined.
What can you expect from an IME nowadays? You will be asked to visit the office of a doctor whom you have never met before. He may ask you some preliminary questions, which will be followed by the briefest “examination” lasting no more than five minutes, and then you will be told to go home. Within a few days your attorney will receive a lengthy report highlighting all the problems with your medical history and treatment and stating one or more of the following: you suffer from a degenerative condition, you had pre-existing injuries, your have no objective symptoms, you are a malingerer, you are magnifying your symptoms, you have a psychological problem so it is all in your head and, if all that fails, you should have healed within 4-6 weeks.
What can you do? The best advice is to understand that this is part and parcel of a modern personal injury claim, it is allowed by the court rules and your attorney will deal with it. Roll with the punches. Keep calm. Welcome to the world of personal injury litigation.