Baltimore Malpractice Attorneys: What to Expect at an Independent Medical ExamNovember 22, 2013
If you become the plaintiff in a personal injury suit of nearly any sort, you can expect the defense to subject you to an independent medical exam. In theory, these exams allow the defense to verify your claims of injury. You meet with in independent medical examiner qualified to evaluate your symptoms and injuries, and that person draws up a report fairly stating the extent of your injuries, pain and limitations. But all of that is just theory.
In practice, you should not expect your independent medical exam (IME) to live up to any part of its name: your exam is seldom truly independent and unbiased, very little medicine is practiced at your IME, and any exam probably feels cursory and inadequate.
Many plaintiffs find IMEs upsetting or undermining. Nobody likes to see a doctor who doesn’t pay attention to you and seems not to care, but it feels even worse when you have the distinct and inescapable impression that the doctor is actively working against you, and does not believe you. However, IMEs have become an unavoidable part of the process of pursuing a personal injury lawsuit, so the best thing you can do is steel yourself and get it over with.
What follows are some tips to prepare yourself mentally and emotionally for your IME:
- Bring a friend. Depending on circumstances unique to your case, your personal injury lawyer may attend your IME, or send a representative from his or her office. But you should plan on bringing someone who has supported you and comforted you since your injury, or at least can be there to empathize with you if the doctor does something upsetting. If you cannot bring a friend and your lawyer cannot send a representative to accompany you, you may want to record your appointment.
- Keep your expectations low. Insurance companies usually choose IME doctors who are known to be sympathetic to the defense. Those doctors often see many patients for IMEs every day, and exams frequently don’t last longer than five or ten minutes. The doctor at your IME does not take any more time with you than absolutely necessary, may repeat measurements and tests to get the desired results, and rarely offers you any useful medical advice.
- Do not get upset! Your IME doctor might twist everything you say and every test result to make it look like your injuries are not that bad. It feels awful to have people twist our words and make us out to be liars or exaggerators. But juries, judges, and mediators all know that the independent in independent medical exam really means insurance, and weight the IME doctor’s testimony accordingly.
Working with the skilled Baltimore malpractice attorneys at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton, P.A. can help you prepare for and refute the results of the IMEs you must attend as part of your personal injury lawsuit.