What is an Independent Medical Examination?
In personal injury and workers compensation cases the opposing party may seek to have you examined by their doctor (i.e. a doctor chosen and paid for by the other side). This type of exam is referred to as an Independent Medical Examination or “IME”; but in reality it is a Defense Medical Examination, which is rarely ever independent. The defense medical examiner will write a report that is sent to both sides. This doctor will also usually be available to testify at trial for the opposing party.
What kind of doctor will be examining me?
The nature and scope of the examination, as well as the type of doctor selected by the other side will depend on the injuries you are claiming to have sustained. You should know the exact name of the doctor who will conduct the exam. Your attorney can give you the doctor’s background. You can count on the doctor being well-trained and experienced in his or her field.
The doctor picked by the defense may be an honest, caring professional. The doctor may seem to be polite and friendly. It is important to remember, however, that the doctor was chosen and will be paid to help the defense. Be aware that the purpose of this examination is not to provide you with a second opinion or reliable recommendations about your medical treatment.
What does the doctor look for?
The doctor has likely been asked by the Defense to look for information that would help the defense’s case. This often means the IME doctor is looking facts and behaviors from you that undermine your claims. This may include if the doctor feels that you are exaggerating the nature of your injuries, unsupported complaints of pain or limitations; or other facts that do not follow your pattern of injury; and evidence that you were not injured in the way you have claimed. The IME doctor may interrogate you regarding how your injury happened, and your past medical history to aid the defense of your claim.
For this reason, it is important to be prepared for the examination.