Independent Medical Exams
“INDEPENDENT MEDICAL EXAMINATIONS”
So you are injured in a car accident/ work related accident/ slip and fall accident and suddenly, during the course of litigation your insurance company, the employer’s insurance company or the defendant’s insurance company contact you and tell you that you have to be evaluated by one of their doctors in an independant medical examination.
An independent medical vendor ( a company that arranges these examinations) writes you a letter informing you that your insurance company/your employer’s insurance company or the defendants’ insurance company want you to see one of their “independent” doctors to verify your disability status/need for treatment/ permanent disability. Presumably, you believe that you are to be examined by a doctor that does not have a financial outcome in the litigation and wants to make sure that you are getting the right kind of treatment.
So you wait in a room filled with other accident victims and are told to fill out some paperwork. You fill out the paperwork, wait a little bit more and one hour later you are called in to see the doctor. The doctor asks you two or three questions, makes you move your body a little bit and then dismisses you.
A few days later, you get a report informing you that you are not really disabled and that the doctor who saw you for a minute or two did a full barage of tests and determined that you are fine. Now your benefits are cut off and you are unable to afford the medical care that you needed. You feel cheated and betrayed. Guess what? You were.
There is nothing independent about an independent medical examination. The doctors who are used to examine you gain a substantial portion of their income in performing examinations on behalf of the insurance company. These doctors can make hundreds of dollars per report, and if they testify against you, they can make thousands.
Several independent medical examiners have admitted to making hundreds of thousands of dollars per year doing such examinations. It is lucrative work and creates an incentive for those doctors to lie and make reports that are inaccurate.
Recently, an “independant” orthopedist committed perjury and swore under oath that he examined the plaintiff for 45 minutes. Luckily for the plaintiff, his attorney had a paralegal observe the independant medical examination (IME) and tape record the examination. The examination lasted for a little over a minute. Now ,that orthopedist may face criminal charges.
Another prominant orthopedist admitted under oath that he never even signed his IME reports, and that the IME company used an automatic signature to sign the reports for him.
Other doctors have had their licenses suspended for committing perjury and lying about the medical examinations they conducted.
I once found out before a trial that the medical vendor who arranged the “independent” medical examination of my client was owned by the wife of the doctor who examined my client. The vending company had the same address as the doctors’ home and phone number was the doctor’s home number. So it was not a coincidence that the vendor’s wife chose her husband, the doctor, to perform an examination on my client.
So what should you do if an insurance company tells you to have an examination by one of their doctors? By law you have to go. But I would suggest bring someone along, and if appropriate video record the examination. In some cases, your lawyer or a paralegal should be present at the examination. You are allowed to bring someone to the examination and the doctor cannot tell you otherwise. While that person may not make a difference in the final outcome of the exam, chances are the doctor will perform a more comprehensive examination.