40,000 people killed in motor vehicle crashes, 4.5 million serious injuries. (Results from the National Safety Council.)
In a personal injury lawsuit, the opposing side has the legal right to retain expert witnesses to examine you. You must attend. This doctor designated as “independent” is selected and paid by that side; i.e. insurance company.
Independent Medical Examination = Misnomer
These insurance or defense examinations are for one purpose only – to either deny or minimize a claim.
The doctor is examining you not for the purpose of treatment, nor to help you find relief from your injuries. Rather, to obtain information that will either allow the insurance company to stop paying benefits or to cast doubt on your claim of injury.
Insurance companies are very deliberate in the physicians they select. They have been selected for a reason. To remain on these panels, many aim to please their master. (Caveat, not all physicians ascribe to this but far too many do.)
Actions Speak Louder than Words
Surveillance is ubiquitous. Assume that everything you say and do while at the examination will be recorded by the doctor or staff. Simply activities, such as sitting on the examining table or removing clothing/footwear will be recorded as part of their mobility testing. Even how long you sit or how you sit is being observed.
Not unheard of is for the physician to drop something to see how you react. Remain observant and vigilant. Don’t fall for one of these ploys.
Be on Time & Don’t Miss the Examination
Your failure to attend may result in your being responsible for payment of the doctor’s fee or the retroactive termination of insurance payments.
Be polite, cooperative, and above all, truthful. The doctor is trained and experienced to look for exaggeration or malingering. Be candid and straightforward but do be certain to inform the doctor of your limitations.
Prepare for the IME Exam
What you should think about:
Do not make notes, and do not bring anything with you.
The doctor or an assistant will ask questions about how your incident occurred, medical history, and current condition. They will also notate:
Be honest, cooperative, and cordial.
Be pleasant, concerned, and serious.
Be brief, succinct, and thorough.
Be accurate in explaining your home, work and leisure activities, such as lifting, bending, stooping, carrying, and walking.
Be candid in any prior related injury/illness.
Be accurate in any disability/limitations; including why you can or cannot, or why you do or do not do certain things.
Answer questions simply; even if a “yes/no”. Never guess! If unsure or don’t know just say that. (Keep conversations with you and your doctor private.)
Wear hand/arm braces and use any rehabilitative assistant devices like canes, walkers etc. at least two days before the exam, the day of, and two days after the exam. Be watchful and mindful as insurance companies like to surveil people around this timeframe.
(If you observe unfamiliar people or cars contact local police. If you are on good terms with your neighbors, ask them to alert you if they are contacted by anyone out of the ordinary. Be careful of strange phone calls.)
Upon arrival start to keep your own, private, notes of time. For example:
Once in your privacy, prepare a written summary. Include, as appropriate:
We understand that you cannot remember everything that occurred. Your best effort should help us. After all, the insurance expert is doing the same thing.