After suffering injuries caused by another’s negligence, you may be able to seek compensation by filing a legal claim. If eligible, you could receive compensation for lost wages, medical bills and other damages related to the accident that caused your injuries. Before shelling out any money, however, the defendant’s insurance company will often request an Independent Medical Exam (IME) to verify your injuries are as you and your treating physicians describe.
It is important to understand what an IME is, whether you are required to attend, and also the real reason insurance companies may request this type of exam.
Our experienced Knoxville personal injury lawyers are familiar with the way insurance companies operate and the true purpose of an IME. We are ready to guide you throughout the legal process of a claim, including preparing you if you are required to attend an IME.
We are here to help. Call: (865) 247-0080 today.
What is an Independent Medical Exam in an Injury Claim?
The idea behind an independent medical exam is to provide insurance companies with an unbiased view of a plaintiff’s injuries. Often, they may feel that any assessment provided by the injured victim’s own doctor may be biased. While this sounds reasonable, the reality is that these exams are anything but impartial.
The Not-So-Independent Medical Examination
Far from the unbiased third-party examination it was intended to be, an IME is typically performed by a doctor selected and paid for by the insurance company. These exams, despite their intended use, often are used as a tactic to:
- Delay payment to the insured
- Dispute the existence or severity of a plaintiff’s injuries
- Attempt to find evidence that an injury was preexisting
- Bring a plaintiff’s credibility into question
Remember that insurance companies are first and foremost for-profit businesses. As such, their end goal is to pay out as little on any claim as possible.
Am I Required to Attend an IME in Tennessee?
Although you may refuse to attend a scheduled IME, it is not likely to prevent you from having to go to one later. It will only delay your claim further. If you fail to show or even cancel the appointment, the defendant’s attorney will most likely file a motion with the court, under Tennessee’s civil procedure rule 35.01, to compel you to attend.
Preparing for Your IME
Insurance companies must provide plaintiffs with advanced notice if they choose to request an IME. This notice will include the time, date and location of your appointment. We recommend that you dress neatly and appropriately for this exam and allow ample time to get there before your appointment. Although your attorney will provide more in-depth information to help you handle your IME, these are some great starting points:
- Do not exaggerate or lie about your injuries – This approach is likely to backfire and may significantly damage your credibility, which in turn, may mean less compensation to you.
- Be on time, polite and pleasant – While you do not need to gush or be falsely upbeat, it is important to show respect to the doctor by being on time and politely answering any questions you are asked.
- Remember that the doctor is not here to help you – The IME doctor is gathering information for the insurance company. He or she may be very nice or seem genuinely concerned, but they are trained for that. Answer his or her questions honestly but stick to the facts without oversharing.
- Do not fake a response during your examination – You will likely be asked to do exercises or simple tasks to help the doctor gauge the severity and extent of your injuries, such as range of motion testing. Give your best effort. Never make your injuries seem worse than they really are. This will not help you to get more money and could, in fact, cause serious damage that could significantly reduce the value of your claim.
- Do not complete any paperwork provided by the IME – Legally, it is not required. Simply decline politely, but firmly. If pressed, you can ask them to forward the paperwork to your attorney to determine whether any of the documents are necessary.
- Bring a friend to the IME – Check with your attorney on the best way to get permission to record the appointment. When checking in, have your friend verbally record your arrival time, the appointment itself, and the time it concluded.
Call Our Firm for Legal Help After an Injury
At Greg Coleman Law, we understand you may feel nervous about attending an independent medical examination, but we are ready to help.
Our team of legal professionals is well-versed in the real purpose of an IME, and we ensure our clients do not go to this exam without being fully prepared. We are ready to handle every aspect of your case while protecting your interests and keeping you informed every step of the way.
Our firm has a proven track record, recovering millions on behalf of our clients. If we represent you, we will fight to maximize your recovery. Find out about your legal options in a free, no-obligation case review. There are no upfront costs if we take your case and no fees to pay unless we recover compensation for you.
Experienced lawyers working for you. (865) 247-0080