If you have been involved in a serious car accident, pedestrian accident, motorcycle, ATV or scooter accident and a personal injury claim is filed, it is likely that you will have to undergo an independent medical examination (“IME”) at the request of the at-fault party. These doctors and health care professions are typically paid directly by the insurance companies.
The purpose of the IME is to enable a neutral party to assess the victim of an accident and determine the extent of his/her injuries, which will likely affect the compensation of the personal injury claim.
WHAT IS AN INDEPENDENT MEDICAL EXAMINATION?
An independent medical examination is a medical interview and examination performed by a healthcare professional who has no pre-existing relationship with the individual being examined.
An IME is intended to perform an unbiased and professional medical examination and subsequent medical opinion to be used as evidence in legal matters, including disability claims, personal injury claims and motor vehicle accident claims. The medical professional executing the examination cannot be employed by the party requesting the IME (ie. the insurance company of the plaintiff’s legal representative).
Typically, the party requesting the IME is doing so in order to receive a medical report that will support their position in the legal matter. The party (the plaintiff or the defendant) will ordinarily choose a doctor that they expect will be predisposed to their position in the legal case. It is not unusual for insurance companies to use the same doctors again and again.
WHAT TYPE OF PROFESSIONALS CONDUCT INDEPENDENT MEDICAL EXAMINATION?
An IME can only be conducted by a healthcare professional who has the appropriate credentials, training and experience to provide an opinion and a written report. The purpose of the IME is for the professional to assess the individual’s medical circumstances related to the accident, injury or illness. An evaluation will take place regarding the individual’s current medical symptoms, past and current treatment and an opinion may be provided regarding the following:
- Work capacity;
- Future treatment and support needs;
- Impairment and disability; and/or
- Recommendations or restrictions on the ability to perform daily activities at work, home and in recreation.
The type of healthcare professional that has been chosen to perform the examination, whether by an insurance company or your own lawyer, will depend upon your particular injuries and your specific case. The health professionals that can conduct IMEs may include the following:
- Family physicians;
- Orthopedic surgeons;
- Psychologists; and/or
- Occupational therapists.
ADVICE ON HOW TO PREPARE FOR AN UPCOMING INDEPENDENT MEDICAL EXAMINATION
The legal team at Cuming & Gillespie LLP would like to provide the following tips to help you prepare for an upcoming IME.
- Be aware that you may be under surveillance the moment you walk out of your front door. This is an opportunity for the insurance company to compare what you tell the doctor about how you are feeling on the day of the assessment to how you acted when you were observed leaving your home or walking into the assessment office.
- Be prepared by knowing the address, being aware of the traffic and where to park in order to ensure that you arrive early to your appointment.
- Be prepared to talk about your disability, your symptoms and how they affect your everyday functioning.
- Know your medical history. The doctor will likely have your medical records from both before and after the accident in question and may be looking for inconsistencies in what you will say about your pre-accident health. If you had symptoms before the accident, be prepared to describe the difference in how you were feeling before the accident in comparison to how you are feeling at the time of your assessment. It is also important to be able to answer any questions regarding the medications you are taking, the physicians you see or treatment you are receiving and the restrictions that your injuries are causing.
- Be honest. If you are honest with your answers to the doctor, you may avoid saying something inconsistent, which can come across as dishonest and not credible.
- Do not volunteer any additional information and only answer only the questions being asked of you.
- Be polite, co-operative and courteous.
- Do your best to give your maximum effort and complete the examination. If you are too tired, you can ask for a break.
- Dress appropriately.
- Bring a family member or a friend for support, but be aware that he/she is likely not permitted to attend the examination with you.
- Bring a notebook and a pen to take notes of your impressions following the assessment. Make a note of how long the assessment lasted, the tests or procedures performed, how much time you spent with the doctor and whether the doctor made any unusual or inappropriate comments.
- Do not discuss any financial or legal issues with the assessor.
Hiring a lawyer is one of the most important decisions you make following your accident and the quality of legal representation you receive can have a major impact on your recovery. When you hire Cuming & Gillespie LLP, you are hiring award-winning lawyers with over 20 years of experience. You can rest assured that your case is in the best hands.
If you have been seriously injured, it is critical that you speak with a lawyer regarding your situation as soon as possible so as not to jeopardize any opportunity to seek compensation. The award winning personal injury lawyers at Cuming & Gillespie LLP can help. Please contact us online or at 403-571-0555. It is important that you call us promptly so we can help you understand your rights and the potential to recover compensation for your injuries. Call our office for a free consultation to determine how we can help you.