Insurance Companies Demand You Submit to their so-called “Independent” Medical Exam (IME)
There's probably no better example of making an injured crash victim jump through hoops than demanding they go to an “independent medical exam”, or an IME. Even the name is inaccurate – there is nothing “independent” involved in an IME, and if you're being told you need to go to one, you should have an attorney that knows what they're doing.
What is an IME?
When you've been hurt in a crash, the insurance companies involved – your own and that of the other driver(s) involved, begin an all-out battle to determine who pays for what, or if they even pay anything at all towards making you whole again. The attorneys and adjusters from the defendant's side, (the person who has been found to be negligent in causing the accident), will do everything in their power to deny, delay or otherwise stonewall paying compensation on your claim. You may be faced with large medical bills and other related costs, and wondering just who is going to pay for all this.
Part of the obstacles they'll put in your way to financial compensation is called an Independent Medical Exam. This is when the other guy's insurance company makes you go see yet another doctor in order to determine the extent of your current injuries. You and your personal injury lawyer have no choice in which care provider you are sent to – that is up to the insurance company. You don't have any say in the date, time or location of this supposed “independent” medical screening and evaluation, and will probably need to take time off from work or deal with other hassles to attend.
But, if you refuse, the other guy's insurance company can claim that will end any chance of ever receiving money for your injuries.
The Reality: It's a COMPULSORY Medical Exam, NOT INDEPENDENT
In the rules of law within the Florida judicial system, one of them deals with Compulsory Medical Examinations, and how they are to be carried out. In fact, part of it reads like this:
“The examination under the Rule is called a “Compulsory” Examination and not an “Independent” Examination. The physician or healthcare provider was not chosen by the Court. The examiner was chosen by one of the parties. The examination must not be referred to in front of the jury as an “independent medical exam.” (Emphasis added).
The Courts' rule(s) go on to state other specific details on exactly how a CME is to be scheduled and performed. But, the other guy's insurance company doesn't seem to know that, based on what we've videotaped at our client CMEs.
Why We Video All Client CMEs
Our law firm makes it a point to videotape every CME our clients are forced to endure. In order to determine whether an insurance company will pay, or continue to pay, on personal injury claims, they need to determine if the patient has reached what is called Maximum Medical Improvement, or MMI. This happens well before a lawsuit is ever filed, during the phase of discovery and pre-suit negotiations between our firm and the insurance company for the defendant.
By forcing you to go to yet another medical exam, they hope to have an “independent” physician support their claim that you are not in need of any more medical treatment, so they can deny your claim.
The reasons we video all CMEs on behalf of our clients are many. There are very specific rules and requirements the doctor must follow, and frankly they seldom do. Here are some more rules of the law on specifically what is and is not allowed:
Videotape and Stenographic Record of Examination
“As noted above, a person being examined may be accompanied by a videographer, certified court reporter, and/or interpreter. The recordings are the property of the legal representative of the person being examined and are not discoverable without further order of this Court.”
NOTE: In many cases, we have had local doctors refuse to allow a videographer to be present for the exam, or require that any videotaped exams take place after usual business hours, just adding more hassle for the injured client.
More from the Court's rules:
Items and Information To Be Brought
“The person being examined is not required to bring any medical records, diagnostic films or studies or aids or reports with him/her. The person being examined should have a form of identification to verify their identity if requested. If a patient information sheet was forwarded to counsel for the party to be examined at least 7 business days before the date for the examination, the party to be examined should bring the completed information sheet with them. If the original records, films or other diagnostic aids are in the actual possession of the party, or his/her guardian, being examined, those records would have to be produced at the time of the examination upon proper written request”. (Emphasis added).
NOTE: This just does NOT happen. In all of the CME's our clients have been forced to attend, we can't recall one instance in which a “patient information sheet” has been submitted to our client ahead of time.
If you're being required to attend a CME, you'll get a letter from the other guy's insurance company with all the details. It will state you are to bring a lot of paperwork, exams, x-rays, MRI's and more. But that is not required under the law. Clearly, another hoop they expect you to jump through.
Also, there are strict court guidelines as to what this supposed “independent” doctor can and cannot ask you in the course of the CME. In almost all of the CMEs that we have videotaped, the doctor starts out by asking specific questions about the accident. They are allowed to know certain details, like if you were in the front or back seat, did you hit the dashboard, windshield, etc. (They supposedly need to know this to help them determine the extent of your current injuries). But the way they pose their questions can appear as if they are seeking information about who caused the crash, as in “well, which direction were you going”, and “what part of the other car hit your car”. They then will ask you about any other doctors you may have been treating with either after or before the crash, and even how you ended up being a client of Goldberg, Racila, D'Alessandro & Noone.
But they're not allowed to do that.
The court's rules say:
“The party being examined will not be required to provide information as to when or why they retained counsel. Further, while they will be not be required to respond to questions regarding who was at fault in the accident, they will need to respond to inquiry from the healthcare provider regarding the mechanics of the accident and their body movements within the vehicle or at the time of the incident. (Emphasis added).
CMEs are Just One Reason You Should Hire a Personal Injury Attorney
A serious crash injury requires you deal with a LOT of red tape and legal hassles in your efforts to get fair financial compensation to help pay for your medical expenses. On the issue of CMEs, we know what to do to ensure your legal rights are fully and aggressively defended, and you're not pushed around.
We've posted many times about what you can expect if you're ever seriously hurt through the fault of someone else, and what a giant insurance company may demand from you. Representing our clients in the event of a CME is just one way we work to get you the justice you deserve. By our firm videotaping the CME, we can guarantee the ability to go on the record if any improprieties are discovered in the process.
To speak to one of our personal injury attorneys about CMEs or any other legal question, fill out this simple form, or call us at 239-461-5508.