Settling an accident claim in Texas requires many different steps and actions on your part as an injured victim. One of these requirements may be an independent medical exam, or IME. An IME is a medical examination that is separate from the one conducted by your primary care physician or an emergency room after an accident. It is performed by a physician that is supposed to be neutral, to provide the insurance company with an unbiased medical opinion about your condition.
What Is an Independent Medical Exam?
The independent medical exam is conducted by a physician who is certified as an independent medical examiner. The alleged purpose of the IME is to give the insurance company an impartial medical opinion on your condition. It serves to confirm the validity of the injury claimed and to prevent insurance fraud. The real goal, however, is often to refute a client’s medical claims and save the insurance company money.
The insurance company will typically provide a list of doctors in Dallas to choose from for an IME, or may give you the name of one specific independent medical examiner to visit. Although the IME is supposed to be performed by an unbiased third-party physician, there are often underlying business connections between the doctor and the insurance company.
For this reason, it is important to contact a personal injury lawyer in Dallas if an insurance company makes a request for an independent medical exam. The request is only valid in cases where there is good cause for the IME, such as disputes over the victim’s medical condition. A lawyer can check the validity of the request and advise you on how to respond.
Do You Have to Submit to an Independent Medical Exam?
In general, you must submit to an independent medical exam if one is requested by an insurance company. Read the language of your insurance policy to see if you agreed to submit to an IME as part of your contract. If so, the only way to refuse an IME is to show proof that admitting to one would be an undue burden, such as taking you out of work or giving you hefty travel costs. A lawyer may also be able to get you out of an IME if the circumstances of your case do not warrant one.
What to Expect During an IME
During an independent medical exam, the doctor will ask you how your injury took place, as well as obtain information about your relevant medical history. The doctor will also ask about your current course of treatment. Then, you may be subjected to physical exams and tests, such as x-rays. The insurance company will pay for the IME. You may be required to submit to more than one independent medical exam, at the cost of the insurance company, if the results of the initial appointment are inconclusive.
Do not fear the independent medical exam. It is very similar to a typical doctor’s appointment, with a focus on the injuries and treatments related to the accident involved in your insurance claim. With a lawyer in your corner, you will know exactly what to expect. Your lawyer can provide guidance and frame your legal strategy so that the results of an IME will affect your injury claim as little as possible.
The outcome of an independent medical exam may be disputed in court, depending on the circumstances. IMEs are rarely objective and may be based on kickbacks the doctor receives from the insurance company. Your lawyer can investigate the validity of your IME, as well as help you move forward with an injury claim for the best possible results. For more information about independent medical exams, contact a personal injury lawyer in Dallas today.