When Are Independent Medical Exams Warranted in Injury Claims?

independent medical exam by insurance company doctorIf you were injured in an accident due to another’s negligence, you may be able to pursue compensation by filing a legal claim. You may be able to recover compensation for your medical bills and other related damages.

However, before a payment is issued, the other party’s insurance company may request that you attend an Independent Medical Exam (IME) to verify that your injuries are as serious as you claim.

It is to your benefit to know what an IME is, whether you are required to attend, and the real reason insurance companies often request that this type of exam be performed.

Our experienced Appleton personal injury lawyers know how insurance companies think and the tactics they may use to try to delay, devalue or deny valid claims. We are ready to help you navigate the legal process, including preparing you for an IME.

We are here to help. Call (877) 888-5201 today.

What is an Independent Medical Exam?

An IME is supposed to be an objective assessment of your injuries. This includes what treatment is needed, whether you have a permanent impairment and your ability to work in the future.

The purpose of an IME is to provide insurance companies with a report from a doctor who is not treating you. They want an unbiased, independent doctor to offer his or her perspective on the injuries you suffered. While this sounds like a reasonable request, these exams are anything but impartial. 

Are Independent Medical Exams Really Independent?

An IME is performed by a doctor chosen and paid for by the insurance company. The doctor generally has a history of examining injury claims on behalf of insurance companies. The reality is that these exams, despite their intended use, are often used as a tactic to:

  • Dispute the existence or severity of your injuries
  • Attempt to question your credibility
  • Search for evidence that your injury was preexisting
  • Delay payment of your injuries and damages

It is important to remember that insurance companies are for-profit businesses. Their main goal is to save themselves money, which means paying out as little as possible in claims.

If you are unsure or somehow think that agreeing to an IME may improve your chances of settling your claim, we recommend meeting with a lawyer. Unlike an insurance company, a lawyer should have your best interests in mind. A lawyer can explain how you can protect the value of your claim during the exam.  

Am I Required to Attend an IME in Wisconsin?

Wisconsin Statute §804.10 allows for such exams in an injury claim. You may refuse to attend an IME, but you could be compelled to attend by a court order.   

How Can I Best Prepare for an IME?

An insurance company is required to give you advanced notice if they request that you attend an IME. This request will include the time, date and location of the exam. If you must attend, it is important that you dress appropriately and be on time. Although your lawyer will likely provide you with more in-depth information to help you best prepare for your IME, below are some suggestions:

  • Be honest about your injuries – The truth about your injuries will come to light through your medical records. Concealing prior injuries or exaggerating an existing injury will only hurt your credibility and your chances of obtaining the compensation you need.
  • Be polite and pleasant – It is important to be respectful and be consistent in your demeanor. This includes politely answering questions asked by the doctor.
  • Keep in mind the doctor is not there to help you – The IME doctor is not providing any treatment or giving medical advice directly to you. He or she is gathering information on behalf of the insurance company. The doctor may seem friendly or act genuinely concerned, but doctors are trained to do this. Stick to the facts and avoid oversharing. 
  • Do not exaggerate your injuries – The IME doctor will ask that you perform certain exercises or simple tasks to help assess the severity of your injuries. Give your best effort, but do not make your injuries appear worse. This will not help you obtain full compensation.
  • Review paperwork with your attorney before signing – It is legally not required that you sign things at the exam. Decline politely, but firmly. It is important to have your lawyer review these documents before signing them.

Call Sigman Janssen for Legal Help After an Injury

At Sigman Janssen, we know how difficult it can be to navigate the legal process after being injured in an accident. You may be unsure or feel nervous about attending an IME, but we are here to help.

If you have a valid claim, our lawyers are ready to protect your rights and discuss your legal options during a risk-free, zero-obligation consultation. We have recovered millions in compensation for our clients. There are no upfront fees if we take on a case and no fees while we work on a case.

Free Case Review 24/7. Ph: (877) 888-5201