What is an Independent Medical Examination?
Personal injury cases can be stressful, complicated, and scary. Especially if you have never gone through a lawsuit or had to sue anyone before. One of the most important parts of the personal injury lawsuit process is being able to show the nature and extent of the injuries you’ve suffered. To do this, you’ll need to be able to show evidence, such as medical reports from the doctors who have examined your injuries.
However, your doctors will likely not be the only people who take a look at you. The other side in the lawsuit will also want to know the nature and extent of your injuries. They probably won’t want to rely on the word of your doctor. Therefore, to gather information about your injuries, the other side will have its own doctors exam you in an independent medical examination, or IME.
IME and Lawsuits
A person who files a personal injury lawsuit is known as a plaintiff. The plaintiff has a legal obligation to show that he or she has suffered an injury and that the defendant – the person the plaintiff is filing the lawsuit against – is legally responsible for paying for those injuries.
In any personal injury lawsuit, the defendant has the right to require the plaintiff to submit to an independent medical examination. This is true whether the plaintiff claims physical or psychological injuries. It’s also true whether you’re suing an individual, an organization, multiple individuals, or multiple organizations.
The Independent Medical Examination Process
The independent medical examination process is fairly simple. However, not only can the process be intimidating, the doctors who perform them may not always make a report that’s favorable to you or your cause.
Let’s take a look at an example. Let’s say you’ve been injured in a slip and fall accident at a local business. You fell downstairs that were covered in oil, suffering an injury to your hip that resulted in medical expenses and painful rehabilitation. You sue the business for the harms you’ve suffered.
The business requests that you receive an independent medical examination from a doctor of its choice. (This doctor is usually selected by the defense attorney and paid by the defendant’s insurance company.) They tell you where the doctor is located, schedule an appointment in advance, and compensate you for the time and expense you incur traveling to the doctor. Once you get there, the doctor exams you and your injuries. The process will be like any other examination but will focus on the injuries you have claimed you sustained as a result of your accident.
Talk to a Lawyer Before Submitting to an IME
If the thought of going to a doctor paid by the other party in your lawsuit gives you pause; it should. IMEs can be stressful, and the doctors who perform them can be intimidating. If you’ve been asked to submit to an independent medical examination, you should talk to your attorney about what you need to do to prepare and protect yourself.