How independent are independent medical exams? - Diamond and Diamond Lawyers
  • Friday, 09 February 2018

How independent are independent medical exams?

#AskDanielDiamond

An independent medical examination might be a little confusing for an accident victim suffering from catastrophic injuries who is told to attend one. After all, the victim is being treated by his or her own doctor whose reports have already been made available for review by the insurance company requesting the IME. The truth is that an IME is not really that independent with reports put together by doctors who see the victim they are asked to evaluate for only a brief amount of time. In some instances the doctor might never see the victim before preparing a report.

What is an IME?

Independent medical examinations or IMEs are routinely requested by insurance companies against whom a claim for benefits has been filed by an accident victim. The purpose of an IME is to provide the insurance company with a report from a doctor who is not treating the patient. The examination is supposed to provide a neutral perspective on the extent of the injury the victim claims to have suffered.

How independent are IMEs?

At least one news report has questioned the true reason behind IMEs and how some doctors who perform them seem more concerned about coming up with a report favorable to the insurance company that hired than they are about providing an honest evaluation of a person’s injuries. Some of the reports are based upon the IME doctor’s review of a file sent by the insurance company without the doctor ever meeting the person who is the subject of the report.

The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario published guidelines for its physicians who might be called upon to prepare a third party report, which is another term for an IME. The guidelines caution doctors to maintain the highest levels of professionalism and integrity when preparing IMEs.

An adverse IME report indicating an accident victim’s injuries to be not as serious as the victim claims them to be can have tragic results. A seriously injured person could have benefits abruptly terminated or denied and be forced to go through a slow appeals process to challenge the report’s findings.

How to conduct yourself during an IME

If you must attend an IME, there are a few things you should be careful about, including:

  • Do not lose sight of the fact the doctor performing the examination works for an insurance company that is trying to limit the amount of money it will be required to pay you.
  • Never volunteer information about your medical condition or injury.
  • Do not ask the doctor for an opinion about your medical care or your injury. Remember, this is not a medical examination conducted by your treating physician.
  • Meet with your personal injury lawyer before going to the IME to review what will occur and how you should conduct yourself.
  • As soon as the IME is completed, write a brief summary of what occurred and give it to your lawyer.

One of the biggest mistakes people make at IMEs is to believe they have to convince the doctor doing the examination that they are really injured. Do not attempt to make your injuries sound more serious. Let the doctor conduct the examination, and your personal injury lawyer will handle it from that point.

Personal injury lawyers offering sound legal advice

The personal injury lawyers at Diamond & Diamond have years of experience successfully handling all types of claims for compensation. Learn more about how we can help by contacting our 24/7 injury hotline at 1-800-567-HURT or by visiting our website to speak to someone now about your claim. Consultations are free, and we have offices located throughout Ontario.

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