Independent Medical Exams: Why do they matter?

How can we fight back against an insurance company’s biased “independent” medical examiner?

When an insurance carrier sends you to a doctor of their choosing, it’s usually to your detriment. How can we fight back?

In nearly every personal injury claim, one of the main issues that prevents a case from settling is a dispute over the extent of one’s injuries and therefore how much the claim is worth. Complications such as prior injuries, delayed onset of symptoms, delayed treatment following an incident, and previously undiagnosed degenerative changes give insurance companies the ammunition needed to dispute the extent of one’s injuries. One tool that both parties (Plaintiff and Defendant) can use to more clearly define a person’s injuries is a Rule 35 physical examination, commonly referred to as an Independent Medical Examination, or IME.

Either side of a case can request that the injured person meet with an “independent” doctor who will review the injured person’s medical records and perform a physical examination, for the purpose of issuing a written opinion that sets forth that Doctor’s opinion on the extent of the injured person’s injuries and their relationship to the underlying incident. The doctor performing the examination and writing the report will act as an expert witness in the claim. There is no doctor-patient relationship. Typically, when an insurance company sends a plaintiff to an IME, the doctor will, predictably, write a report that is unfavorable for the Plaintiff. However, to combat these unfavorable reports, which may falsely claim the patient should have been healed within six weeks, or discounting the extent of the injuries, the Plaintiff can hire their own expert witness and sit for a second IME which will hopefully refute at least some, if not most of the Defense IME report.

These IMEs and their respective reports also act as a great summary of the Plaintiff’s injuries that can be helpful during arbitration, mediation, or trial, or however the claim eventually resolves.

Unfortunately, insurance companies tend to migrate toward doctors who are willing to issue negative opinions against the injured Plaintiff, thus, in effect, minimizing and discounting the value of the Plaintiff’s claim. These specific doctors are well known among Plaintiffs’ attorney’s such as those at the Rockafellow Law Firm. The Rockafellow Law Firm has developed effective strategies to combat the impact of these harmful IME reports.

Without an experienced attorney on your side, an insurance company’s IME can potentially be devastating for an injured party, effectively diminishing the value of one’s injury claim. However, these IMEs can be refuted, either by challenging the doctor’s findings, challenging, the doctor’s history and motivation, or simply hiring a second doctor to perform a second IME. The Rockafellow Law Firm understands the nuances of IMEs and, most importantly, how to effectively combat an insurance IME.

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