If you are injured in a serious accident, there are often numerous medical bills that must be covered. The responsibility for paying them lies with the liable party’s insurance carrier. Since the bills can be considerable, insurance companies often want to confirm that the injuries are real and that the mounting costs are in fact their obligation.
They also might want to ensure that the injuries are consistent with those described by the patient. To determine how bad a plaintiff’s injuries are in a personal injury lawsuit, often insurance carriers will ask for an “independent medical evaluation” or an IME.
Why someone might want an IME
When a person is injured in an accident, they typically go to the healthcare provider of their choice for care. Insurers are sometimes concerned that the physician that a plaintiff chooses is biased in favor of the victim and may be overstating the extent of the injuries. That is why they often will ask that another, independent medical professional take a second look at the extent of the injuries as an impartial evaluation.
If the victim has not been examined at all, then the insurance company will almost definitely want to have an independent medical evaluation done to confirm that their injury claims are feasible. The job of the independent physician is to evaluate the extent of the injuries and provide their opinion as to whether the claims being made are real. It is also their job to rule out the possibility that the injuries aren’t related to something other than the accident in question.
When an independent medical evaluation can be ordered
If the plaintiff does not want to have a medical evaluation, there are times when they can be ordered as a part of the court case. Many states allow insurance companies to compel plaintiffs in personal injury suits to have an IME done if there are questions about the severity or the cause of the injuries being claimed.
Typically, the insurance company can order that the plaintiff submit an independent medical evaluation to the court. But the insured victim may not be ordered to submit themselves to an evaluation that would cause them an undue burden, such as traveling long distances or having a medical exam that would be painful and unnecessary.
Some states also allow the court to rule that IMEs may be required under special circumstances. Those circumstances are if the patient’s diagnosis or evaluation appears to be in question either mentally or physically. A judge may refuse to order an evaluation if the patient is not suing for injuries related to a car accident, but just their repairs, or if the injuries sustained have long since healed.
What to do if you are ordered to have an independent medical evaluation
If you are required to have an IME, then you might have to submit to more than one evaluation. The good news is that you will not be charged for it. There are times when the party asking for the examination may choose the physician to do the evaluation. But if there is a question about the validity and bias of the attending physician evaluation by the patient’s doctor, then the court itself will likely choose the independent party so that there isn’t any bias on the part of the insurer either.
If you are asked to submit to an independent evaluation, it is a good idea to petition the court to choose the physician. Allowing the insurer to choose the elevator can lead to bias on the part of the insurer, which will not be in the plaintiff’s favor. The best way to handle any personal injury suit is to have a personal injury attorney in your corner. That way there will be no dispute about your injuries, and you will probably not need to have an independent medical evaluation. If you do, your lawyer can advise you about the best way to proceed with the ordered evaluation.
It is best to comply as much as possible for a quick resolution to your personal injury suit, but not at the risk of compromising the outcome. You shouldn’t fear an IME as long as it is done by an impartial third party, which is why it is best to have a lawyer looking out for your best interests.