Preparing for Your Independent Medical Exam (IME) After an Auto Accident
Car accidents can be traumatizing. But what is often even more stressful than the accident itself is the aftermath of the accident. It’s not always clear who’s liable for a crash, against whom to file a claim, or what your damages are worth.
As you navigate the claims process after an auto accident, the insurance adjuster may request that you submit to an IME – an independent medical examination. Consider the following about preparing for an IME, and reach out to our experienced car accident lawyers at the Pack Law Group for personalized attention and assistance:
What Is an Independent Medical Exam?
Independent medical exams are most often referenced with regards to workers’ compensation claims, but they can be requested in a variety of injury claim types, including car accident claims. An IME refers to an examination by a non-treating medical provider and is used to obtain an expert opinion about the medical issues in a case.
For example, an IME may be used to determine the severity of injuries, the appropriate course of treatment, when the injured party is likely to reach MMI (maximum medical improvement), and the nature and extent of disability.
How to Prepare for an IME
Before you submit to an IME, it’s important to know what to expect and to prepare yourself as such. Here are some tips for preparing for your independent medical examination:
- Be prepared to talk about your injuries. Not only will the doctor perform a physical examination, they’ll also ask you about your injuries and the extent of your disability and pain. Be prepared to provide specific, detailed answers in response to these questions. The more you can tell the doctor about your injuries–and the more clearly–the more information the doctor will be able to provide to the insurance company. Remember to provide information about pain that’s related to daily activities, too. It’s also very important that you are consistent in your answers; inconsistencies or exaggerations may present as mistruths, which can hurt the outcome of your IME.
- Be honest. As touched on above, hyperbolizing your pain and disabilities will likely hurt your case, not help it. There is nothing wrong with being honest about feeling better in some regards or admitting that a treatment has indeed helped. The important thing is to remain honest and straightforward, and to respond accurately to the questions that you’re asked.
- Be professional. If you’re in pain, dealing with a disability, and frustrated about the fact that your claim still hasn’t been settled, it can be hard to be professional and friendly with the IME doctor. However, remaining professional is strongly advised. Be sure to arrive at your appointment early, be positive and friendly, and conduct yourself appropriately.
If you have a close friend or family member who is willing to attend the appointment with you, their participation can be a comfort. What’s more, they can serve as a witness to the IME, which may be helpful in verifying information at a later time.
Finally, if you have an attorney, consult with your attorney about how to prepare for your IME. There may be preparatory tips specific to your case.
Cautions About Your IME
One important thing to keep in mind about an IME is that they are requested by the defendant (i.e. the insurance company), and the defendant is the party who will select the physician. While the physician is supposed to be independent and unbiased, this is probably not going to be the case. Be cautious of this and be careful what you say and how you act.
Why Work with an Experienced Car Accident Lawyer?
If you are involved in a crash and are in the settlement process, the insurance company responsible for processing your claim may request that you submit to an IME. While this may be standard, the insurance company is likely making this request as a way to gather evidence to diminish the value of your claim.
To protect your rights and interests, working with a skilled car accident attorney is recommended. An attorney can gather evidence to support your case, hire expert witnesses, organize your medical evidence, and negotiate your settlement. Of course, an attorney can also represent you in litigation as well. At the office of the Pack Law Group, our experienced Virginia car accident lawyers believe that you deserve a skilled, determined advocate on your side. For help navigating your claim and preparing for an independent medical exam, please call our law office at 540-586-7225, visit our Bedford office in person, or use the contact form on our website to send us a mes