If you’re involved in a personal injury or a workers’ compensation case, you will probably need to go for an independent medical exam (IME). An IME is an evaluation by a third-party, independent, physician that will give an unbiased opinion about your medical condition and any disability.
Sometimes the findings of IME are used to settle a case, determine the amount of disability from an injury, or even resolve the issue of causation of some medical issues. IME’s might be used when clarification is needed, a status update is required, or if an insurance company is still trying to decide whether or not to accept your claim.
If you’re asked to attend an IME, you may feel apprehensive. This is normal, but there is no need to worry. Here are some tips to prepare for your IME so that the process is smooth for all involved.
Make sure you attend. Attending your appointment is crucial to the progression of your case. In fact, failure to attend an IME could result in denial of an insurance claim or suspension of any benefits that you are already receiving.
Arrive early. Many of these physicians will have a stack of paperwork for you to fill out before you are ushered back into the exam room. This could take 20 minutes or more to complete. Just to be safe, arrive at your appointment about 30 minutes early to fill out all paperwork unless this was provided to you in advance.
Understand who hired the physician. Just because the word “independent” is in the name, that doesn’t mean that this exam is going to be completely impartial. This physician was selected for the IME because they have a relationship with the insurance company. While you shouldn’t assume bias, it’s a safe bet that the doctor will be closely looking for any pre-existing conditions, other than the accident in question, which could be causing your pain or discomfort.
Be honest. Despite potential bias, it’s important that you are as truthful as possible during your meeting with the doctor and your examination. Avoid the temptation to embellish symptoms.
Be polite. Whether you suspect bias or not, being rude to a physician isn’t going to help your case. Walk into the exam with a friendly and positive attitude regardless of how the physician behaves.
Come organized. Have a clear understanding of your medical history so that you can relate it to the physician. If you’ve had previous injuries, be ready to describe those and any treatment or surgeries that you received. If there were prior injuries, describe how this injury created a new set of symptoms, and let the doctor know about any increase in pain or limitations that you didn’t have before. Clearly describe for the physician where your areas of pain are and what activities or movements aggravate your pain and discomfort the most. If you are nervous, prepare for your appointment by speaking to family member or friend about your injury before your exam.
Be consistent and precise. When meeting with the physician, avoid the temptation to give unsolicited information. They don’t need to know that your elbow hurts the most when you go fishing. Instead, give precise answers and behave in a manner that is consistent with your replies.
Avoid diagnostic tests. Unless it was previously agreed upon with your attorney, politely refuse x-rays or other diagnostic tests. These will become a part of the medical record and could affect your case.
After Your Independent Medical Evaluation
After your exam, take the time to write down some notes about the process. Include the exact amount of time that you were with the physician, what he asked you and your answers, and a list of any tests that were performed and talk with your attorney about it.
IME’s can be intimidating, but they can also be helpful tools to reach a settlement in your personal injury or worker’s compensation case. If you have any questions about your IME, contact the Connecticut personal injury attorneys at The APEX Law Firm at (860) 900-0900. Our experienced Connecticut injury attorneys can help you prepare for your evaluation.