What Are Independent Medical Examinations?
If you are injured by negligence and you seek compensation, you may be asked to undergo an independent medical examination (IME).
What does an IME entail? Who pays for an IME? If you’re seriously injured by someone who was negligent, you’ll need to know.
Serious accidents that are caused by negligence often lead to substantial monetary payments, typically paid by the person found liable or by an insurance provider.
WHY ARE IMEs SOMETIMES REQUIRED?
Those who pay have the right to be certain that the person receiving that payment was genuinely and legitimately injured as badly as he or she claims.
Before any payment is made in such cases, an examination conducted by a physician who is not the victim’s own doctor may be necessary. That exam is an “independent medical examination.”
An accident victim who is seriously injured will usually be examined and treated first by his or her own doctor.
But in personal injury cases, there’s a possibility that the injury victim’s own doctor may be somewhat prejudiced in favor of the plaintiff/victim.
Thus, the party being sued for negligence – the defendant – may insist that an independent physician should examine the victim to assess his or her injuries.
WHAT DOES AN INDEPENDENT MEDICAL EXAMINER LOOK FOR?
An independent doctor may examine the victim to ensure that injuries:
1. were in fact sustained
2. are as serious as the victim claims
3. happened in the accident and not at another time or place or in another way
PRECISELY WHEN ARE IMEs REQUIRED?
In some cases, an independent medical examination may be compulsory. Many states allow insurance companies to require an IME when a claim seems questionable.
Under the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure, for a defendant to be entitled to compel a plaintiff to submit to an IME, the defendant must show that:
1. Good cause exists for the IME.
2. The plaintiff’s medical condition is in dispute.
“Good cause” for an IME requires a defendant to show that:
1. The IME is relevant to the issues in the case.
2. The information the defendant needs cannot be gathered in a less intrusive way.
WHAT CAN AN IME TELL US ABOUT A PERSONAL INJURY CLAIM?
Defendants and their attorneys in personal injury cases must consider the possible implications of demanding plaintiffs to submit to IMEs.
Does the defendant believe that the IME will successfully disprove a plaintiff’s injury claim?
If it does not, and the IME instead proves the claim, the defendant will probably in such a case be found liable – and ordered to pay.
Thus, a personal injury defendant should only request an IME when there is a high probability that the results will benefit the defense.
WHAT SHOULD INJURY VICTIMS KNOW ABOUT IMEs?
As a plaintiff, keep in mind that independent medical examiners are supposed to be independent, but they are in fact hired by the defense.
This may in some cases undermine the examiner’s independence. A defendant and his or her attorney may choose a doctor they believe is sympathetic to their side.
Even doctors who genuinely want to be independent may be subconsciously influenced when they know that their clients are seeking a specific type of IME outcome.
In fact, “selection bias” regarding an IME can even become an issue in the case itself. In cases where the plaintiff believes a doctor may be biased, the court may choose the physician.
IF YOU’RE ORDERED TO SUBMIT TO AN “IME,” HOW SHOULD YOU RESPOND?
What can a plaintiff do to help his or her personal injury case if an IME is ordered? For starters, understand what an IME does.
An IME isn’t treatment or even an effort to arrive at a diagnosis. It is simply a fact-gathering examination – a sort of “fishing expedition” for anything that might help the defense.
Plaintiffs should also understand that they will be extensively questioned during an IME. It is important to remain calm and be prepared.
Your attorney can help you prepare for the questions you may face in an IME. A personal injury lawyer can offer useful advice and tell you what to expect if you are asked to submit to an IME.
WHERE CAN SOUTH TEXAS INJURY VICTIMS TURN FOR HELP?
In fact, if you’re injured by negligence in south Texas – in a traffic crash or any other type of accident – as soon as you’ve obtained medical treatment, it’s imperative to discuss your legal rights and options with an experienced Edinburg personal injury attorney.
An Edinburg personal injury attorney will provide the frank legal advice you need. If you’ve been injured by negligence, the right attorney will fight aggressively for the compensation – and the justice – you need and deserve.
Personal injury cases are not the only cases that may require independent medical examinations.
IMEs may be required for injured employees seeking workers’ compensation benefits, and examinations focusing on mental health are sometimes required in child custody cases.
If you are injured accidentally in the state of Texas, and you intend to seek compensation from the negligent party or parties for your damages, it’s best to presume from the start that you will have to have an IME.
HOW MUCH WILL IT COST TO HIRE A PERSONAL INJURY LAWYER?
Always consult your attorney before you go to an IME. If you’ve been injured by negligence, you should speak to an attorney at once.
Most injury attorneys handle personal injury claims on a contingency fee basis, and a first consultation is free, so it costs you nothing to learn where you stand legally after you’ve been injured.
And you pay your attorney only when you receive your compensation.
Texas law entitles injury victims to full compensation for the medical expenses, lost wages, pain, suffering, and all other damages arising from injuries caused by the negligence of others.
If you’ve been injured by another person’s negligence, even though the law entitles you to full compensation, you’ll encounter hurdles to obtaining that compensation. An IME is just one of those hurdles.
WHY DO INJURY VICTIMS NEED TO ACT QUICKLY?
You must act quickly after an injury caused by negligence. Evidence deteriorates and memories fade, so it’s imperative to put your case – at once – in the hands of an attorney you trust.
Moreover, in most Texas injury cases, the statute of limitations requires you to initiate legal action within two years of the date of the injury, the date of the injury’s discovery, or the date when the injury should have been discovered.
Don’t wait two years after you’ve been injured and try to file a lawsuit at the last minute. In fact, don’t even wait two weeks to speak with an injury lawyer.
Get the legal help and advice you need if you are injured by someone else’s negligence in south Texas. It’s your health, your future – and your right.