News from the Front: The "Independent Medical Examination" (IME)
Many of my fellow plaintiff's lawyers call the Independent Medical Examination (IME) that occurs in personal injury claims the "Defendant's Medical Examination." These medical examinations occur in two contexts in car accident cases and are never "independent". In the first case, an injured insured who is receiving treatment through his own auto insurance (No-Fault Coverage) is required to appear at a doctor of the insurance company's choosing in order to allow the insurance company to assess whether continued treatment is warranted. If the doctor they have hired decides that no further treatment is warranted, the insurance company can then discontinue the medical coverage and save money. If the doctor finds that additional medical coverage is warranted, then the injured individual can continue treatment using the insurance company coverage and the doctor who authorized it can begin looking for new employment. With only partial tongue in cheek, it is fair to say that the IME that the No-Fault provider uses is usually two or three minutes in duration and is a fair mockery of medical practice. The second case isn't much better and may be worse: When an injured individual sues another party asserting that the other party is responsible for the injuries and damages that follow from the negligence, the stakes on the IME go way up. This doctor is hired by the defense firm defending the lawsuit with the singular (there are rare exceptions) intent on finding that the injuries claimed are either preexisting, degenerative in nature, or unrelated to the trauma that gives rise to the litigation. Again, the honest medical practitioner (and this is just my opinion and there are a few) who finds that the injury is acute, is not degenerative, and/or is related to the trauma at issue, is a rare bird indeed and should be applauded in the face of the near certainty that if he continues to find claimant's injuries warrant compensation he or she can expect to see a reduction in his or her income related to doing further "liability" IMEs down the road.