An independent medical examination (IME) is conducted by a medical doctor to determine the extent of your injuries and reveal any disabilities you may have. The examiner will do this by reviewing your health records, giving you a physical examination, conducting some medical tests, and asking you some questions. Here are three things you should know about a typical IME:
It Is Not a Medical Treatment Consultation
People always assume that going to the doctor means getting a diagnosis or treatment, but this is not the case with an IME. The doctor will not treat you or give you any advice as far as your injuries are concerned. His or her only duty is to get information about your injuries so that he or she can have an expert opinion on them. In fact, you shouldn't be surprised if he or she asks you to sign a form certifying that the consultation isn't a medical treatment session.
It's Not Really Independent
The term independent medical examination is misleading because it's not exactly independent. The insurance company (who, by the way, pays for the IME) uses the report to determine how serious your injuries are as a basis for any potential settlement. You don't need to be a personal injury attorney to know that the insurer's wish is to minimize your injuries as much as possible so as to limit the amount of money it may pay you. Though the medical examiner isn't likely to lie, you can be sure that decisions that can go either way will certainly benefit the insurers more often than you.
It's Not Good to Volunteer Information
Here is another instance of the difference between an IME and a regular doctor consultation session. While you should usually volunteer information and be open with your personal doctor, you shouldn't do this with an independent medical examiner. Just answer his or her questions.
If you do volunteer information, you may end up contradicting yourself (pain can do that to you) or saying confusing things that the examiner may interpret as your attempts at lying.
As you can see, this is much more of a legal process than a medical one. It's for this reason that it's best to be prepared before going for an IME. The best way to be prepared is to consult an attorney so that he or she can advise you on how to behave during the examination so that you don't end up shooting yourself in the foot.