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What Is An Independent Medical Examination (IME)?


When you are injured in an accident, nobody knows more about your medical condition than your own doctors. They will be crucial witnesses, and will help the jury understand how you were injured, what your recovery will be, and what kind of pain or disability that you are experiencing.

But what about the other side (or the insurance company for the other side)? How do they know how injured you are, or challenge what your doctor says in court?

Enter the IME

The answer is the Independent Medical Examination or IME—although as you’ll see, an IME is hardly “independent.” In fact, it’s often called a “DME,” for “Defense Medical Examination.”

An IME is a one-time visit that you will make to the insurance company’s doctor, where their doctor will evaluate you, your injury, and your recovery. Unlike your own doctor, who sees you for medical purposes, this doctor isn’t seeing you to treat or heal you. This doctor is seeing you just to evaluate you.

Unlike your doctor, who may see you multiple times over a period of time, and who understands your progress, recovery or setbacks, the IME doctor is seeing you only one time, and giving his or her impressions of your injuries. The IME doctor may seem very nice, and may act like he or she cares about you or your treatment. But don’t be fooled.

Hardly a Fair Evaluation

As you can imagine, the insurance company doctor is hardly fair or neutral. The doctor sees hundreds, sometimes thousands of accident victims all sent to him or her by the same insurance company or law firm. Because of this, it’s in the doctor’s best interest to make you seem as healthy and “uninjured” as possible.

If a doctor said that an accident victim was severely injured and completely telling the truth about the victim’s pain or disability, you can imagine that it would be unlikely the insurance company would use that doctor very often.

At Your IME

At your IME, the doctor will ask you questions about your accident, but the doctor isn’t trying to figure out who was at fault for the accident. The doctor may do some non-invasive tests, like range of motion tests, or feeling your injured body parts, and perhaps, taking a diagnostic scan like an X-ray. However, the doctor will almost never do anything much more invasive than that.

There is no confidentiality between you and the IME doctor. In fact, the doctor will write up a report that will be given to the other side, and the doctor can and often will testify in court against you. The report will usually say that your injuries are caused by something other than the accident, or else, the report will say that you aren’t as injured, in pain, or disabled, as you claim to be.

Call the Clinton personal injury attorneys at Fox Willis Burnette, PLLC, for help if you are injured by any kind of defective drug or food product.

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