Dealing with medical treatments and unexpected bills after a car crash is hard enough for injured victims. However, after filing a no-fault claim, their insurer may also require them to get an independent medical exam (IME). This unexpected request can cause anxiety and a lot of questions for victims still trying to recover from their injuries. What does this request mean? Are independent medical exams required? Who pays for this exam? What if you refuse to go?
Thankfully, if you are working with a qualified attorney, you do not have to figure things out on your own. Your attorney can communicate with the insurance company on your behalf. He or she can also help you understand other elements of your claim, such as getting an IME.
At Jay Trucks, we have a team of experienced Flint car crash attorneys who are ready to discuss your situation and help you with your no-fault claim. Call today to get started. There is no cost and no legal obligation.
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What is an Independent Medical Exam in a No-Fault Claim?
If you file a no-fault claim after a car crash, you may also get a request to attend an IME. In theory, the purpose of an IME, which is to use an objective, third-party physician to assess you, sounds reasonable. Getting an unbiased assessment should be helpful to both parties in an injury claim. However, the reality is that these exams are not unbiased at all.
Who Pays for This Exam, and Who Selects the Doctor to Perform the IME?
An independent medical examination in a no-fault claim does not cost you anything. This is because your insurance provider both selects and pays the doctor who will perform your IME. If you are thinking that this sounds self-serving for the insurance company, you are correct. This is just one reason why independent medical exams get a bad rap.
That said, your insurer must follow certain requirements under the law, according to the no-fault auto insurance reform 2020. For instance, the doctor they choose must be the same type of specialist as your treating physician.
What if I Am Only Pursuing a No-Fault Claim for My Injuries?
In a section of the no-fault act, Section 3151, there is a provision that allows your no-fault insurer to request an IME. Specifically, it provides that your no-fault insurer can make this request when your mental or physical condition is in question. However, your insurer may not request an IME without good reason.
Will All Injured Victims Need to Get an IME?
No, but there is a greater likelihood of this happening if you have severe injuries that take longer to heal. More extensive claims cost the insurance company more money.
Can I Refuse to Attend an Independent Medical Exam?
Crash victims may refuse to undergo the exam. However, it is not a good idea. Under section 3153 of the No-Fault Act, your insurer can issue a court-order to compel you to get an IME. Rather than refuse this request and appear uncooperative, it is better to prepare and attend the IME.
How Do I Prepare for an Independent Medical Exam?
Knowing how to prepare for your independent medical exam is important. Fortunately, this is something your attorney can help you with so that you do not get blindsided.
In addition to insight you get from your attorney, here are some helpful tips to know before you go:
- Dress appropriately: First appearances matter, so dress neatly, but simply. It is best to avoid certain types of clothing that may send the wrong message. For example, sloppy clothing, tight jeans, low-cut blouses, lots of jewelry, high heels or dirty fingernails. If you can walk in high heels, it may seem your injuries are not as bad as you say.
- Show respect for the doctor: This includes being pleasant, cooperative and on time for the appointment.
- Bring a friend or family member with you: Do not drive yourself. Your friend or family member should bring you, and they can also be a witness to what took place in your exam.
- Stay mindful about why you are there: The doctor will start assessing you from the moment you walk into the office. For example, the doctor will note how easy it is for you to walk, get on the exam table or remove your jacket or sweater.
- Be upfront and honest, but do not embellish: Do not exaggerate your injuries or downplay them. Be honest about what hurts and how it impacts your life. However, do not provide more information than you are asked. For example, there is no reason for the doctor to ask you questions about what happened in the crash.
- Never try to hide preexisting injuries: Doing that will only backfire, and in a bad way. Your attorney can help you to understand the best way to discuss any preexisting injuries.
- Do not sign any paperwork in the office: Tell them you will have your attorney review it before you sign and return it.
What if the IME Report is Different Than My Doctor’s Findings?
This could happen since an IME doctor is not, as already stated, unbiased. He or she is being paid by your insurance company to dispute the injuries you are claiming. His or her real purpose is to try to find a way to devalue or even deny your claim.
With this objective in mind, the findings of an IME doctor may conclude that:
- Your injuries were not caused by the car crash,
- You did not suffer injuries in the accident, or
- The crash caused you some harm, but the injuries are less severe than you claim
If the IME report conflicts with the diagnosis of your treating physician, your attorney will dispute the report. Your attorney may use evidence, including your medical records, doctors notes and your well-documented pain journal to support his arguments. He or she may also decide to use an expert witness if it is appropriate and will further strengthen your claim.
How Our Law Firm Can Help You With Your No-Fault Claim and IME
After suffering injuries in a car crash, the last thing you need to worry about is handling your legal claim on your own. Our attorneys are dedicated to helping injured victims get the compensation they need to aid their recovery. We understand the purpose of an independent medical exam in a no-fault claim, and we are prepared to protect your best interests.
Contact our law offices today to learn more about how we may be able to help. Your initial case review is completely free – and there is no obligation to take legal action. If we represent you, there are no upfront costs to worry about. We only get paid if we win compensation for you.
Call Our Trusted Law Firm Today. 989-244-0356