You were involved in a New York personal injury accident and sustained serious personal injuries. As a result of your accident and the resulting injuries, you commenced a lawsuit.
As part of your litigation against the person(s) or entities, their insurance carrier requests an independent medical examination (IME) so that they can assess the extent of your injuries. As part of the personal injury lawsuit process, you must appear for an examination. Failing to attend and cooperate during an IME could be grounds for dismissal of your personal injury action. Therefore, understanding your rights regarding an IME is the first step in protecting yourself against a biased and pro-insurance medical report.
WHAT IS AN INDEPENDENT MEDICAL EXAMINATION IN A NEW YORK PERSONAL INJURY CASE?
As part of the personal injury action, the defendant(s) will be permitted to conduct a medical examination to assess your injuries and/or claims. This type of medical examination will occur during the discovery phases of the litigation in order to prevent any unfair surprises at the time of trial. This is a requirement in all personal injury actions in New York State. Under the New York Civil Law Practice and Rules, all parties in a litigation are required to disclose all relevant and material facts that relevant and pertain to the case. This disclosure includes document production, medical records pertaining to the claims, depositions, Bills of Particulars, and in most personal injury cases, an independent medical examination.
The IME allows the defendant(s) in personal injury cases to obtain an assessment of plaintiff’s injuries from a physician (designated by the defendant or the defendant’s insurance carrier) that has not previously treated the plaintiff. This discovery device, allows the defendant(s) to obtain what is supposed to be an objective and neutral evaluation, rather than rely solely on documents that have been produced by plaintiff’s personal health-care providers and/or physicians.
The designated doctor reviews your medical records and other documents related to your injury, illness, and medical treatment. In addition, the designated doctor’s independent physical examination serves to clarify any issues.
Questions that the designated doctor may address include, but are not limited to:
- Do you need additional testing or medical treatment for your condition?
- Was the medical treatment you received satisfactory to address your personal injury or condition?
- Did a prior injury, illness, or condition contribute to the cause of your current condition?
- Did the treating physician correctly diagnose your medical condition, illness, or injury?
- Are you able to return to work with or without restrictions?
- Did you sustain permanent impairments or disabilities because of the personal injury accident?
The defendant and the insurance company often use the IME to declare that you are either not permanently injured or that your injuries have now resolved. By doing so, the defendant and their insurance company are looking to mitigate any damages claim stemming from your personal injury accident.
However, the results of an IME may not be unbiased and objective. Often times, the insurance carrier designates a doctor that is pro-insurance company/defendant. After the doctor conducts an examination, the IME report is typically slanted in favor of the insurance carrier and the defendant. A good-seasoned New York personal injury attorney will understand the medicine and how it applies to your medical records and the injuries that you sustained. That seasoned will be able to interpret the defendant’s IME report and read in between the lines.
THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW BEFORE AN INDEPENDENT MEDICAL EXAMINATION
If you are required to submit to an IME, here are some things to be aware of:
- There is no patient-doctor confidentiality during an independent medical examination. Anything you say to the doctor may be included in the doctor’s report.
- The doctor’s observation(s) may be included in the report, including your physical abilities and mental clarity. Those observations include your willingness to perform certain tasks during your physical examination
- The doctor may begin by asking you how the injury occurred. Answer the question honestly and succinctly without embellishing the truth or providing too much information.
- Be prepared to provide details regarding your injury or condition, including specific symptoms. You need to be able to provide the beginning and duration of symptoms.
- Avoid downplaying your injury. Your IME is not the time to prove your pain tolerance. Instead, be honest about your physical limitations and restrictions.
- Always tell the truth. If you lie or exaggerate your symptoms, the doctor will know and reflect this in the IME report. This could potentially cause your credibility to be in question at the time of trial or during any settlement negotiation.
- Stick to straightforward facts. Do not use overly descriptive language so past and future statements match.
- Answer truthfully when the doctor asks you about your medical history and prior injuries or conditions. You should have disclosed this information to the treating physician. Hiding prior injuries or medical conditions could jeopardize your personal injury claim.
A New York Personal Injury attorney helps you prepare for the IME. They may have additional tips and instructions regarding the examination.
An independent medical examination does not mean that you will lose on your personal injury claim. The physical examination is part of the litigation process and the defendant has a right to assess the injuries that you are claiming that were caused by the subject accident. An IME should be taken seriously. Having sound legal advice from a New York Personal Injury Attorney is the best way to protect yourself.
The Law Offices of Effie Soter, P.C. New York Personal Injury Attorneys
At The Law Offices of Effie Soter, P.C. in New York, New York, our team of highly skilled New York Personal Injury attorneys can review your case and obtain the compensation you are entitled to. We will do everything possible to make sure you receive reimbursement for your injuries, as well as lost wages and other damages. Our experienced personal injury attorneys have helped victims in the New York City area obtain the recovery they deserve for their injuries and related losses. Please call our office at (646) 504-7384 today.