Independent Medical Examination Tactics – #1

In certain personal injury, disability, workers’ compensation and other type claims, the defense or the insurance company will request that claimants submit to so-called “independent” medical examinations or “IMEs”. Many of these are performed by health care professionals who try to do this in a professional manner and give their honest opinions. Unfortunately, some seem to have developed a significant stream of income for performing this type of service – and the defense seems to frequently use them since they invariably question or rebut the cause, nature or effect of the claimant’s condition or injuries. Today’s topic is preparation for the IME. As a general overview, a claimant must keep in mind that the IME is taking place because the defense has questions or suspicions about your condition. Before going you should talk to your legal advisor (if you have one) and there are numerous tips they can give you as well as several videos that have been produced over the years to demonstrate a typical IME and how the process works. You should have someone accompany you to the doctor’s office and have them take notes about the time you arrive, the time you actually see the doctor, how long you are with the doctor, and when you leave. You should only sign documents if your legal advisor indicates that it is OK to do so. When going to a doctor who invariably finds claimants to be exaggerating their conditions, it can make sense to schedule a visit with your own doctor on the same day. There are sometimes incredibly interesting differences in reported physical findings (such as range of motion, gait, etc.) when different doctors examine clients on the same day and this can call the IME findings into serious question. It is not a good idea to try to secretly record the visit with an IME doctor. First, it is not legal in many states. Secondly, even in “one party consent” states, quality recordings are difficult to make when partially undressed and, finally, under good cross examination a claimant making the recording can be challenged and legally attacked in a variety of unpleasant ways. Although many judges and courts frown on it, sometimes we have obtained court permission to videotape the examination and have had no difficulty with admitting the video at hearing or trial since prior permission was obtained. More tactics and tips will follow.
John Reilly

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