If you've recently filed a civil lawsuit against a person, entity, or organization that has caused you physical injury, you may be required to undergo an independent medical examination (IME) before your case goes to trial. This examination can often make or break your case, so it's important to arrive prepared. Read on to learn more about what IMEs are used to accomplish, as well as what you can do to prepare for an upcoming IME at a clinic like UMC Medical Consultants, P.C

What is the purpose of an IME? 

An IME is generally requested by the defendant's insurance company as a pre-condition to any potential payout. This examination is designed to cut down on potential insurance fraud by ensuring that only damages directly relating to the accident or other incident are compensated. 

For example, if you were rear-ended in an auto accident and are now suffering neck and back pain, the IME will seek to determine whether any of this pain could have been caused by a pre-existing condition or whether it stems solely from the accident. The IME will also try to evaluate your level of pain and whether it is temporary or permanent when deciding how much to offer you in settlement of the claim.

An IME is often used as a precursor to settlement with the insurance company, but can also be used in court. If the IME indicates that your injuries were indeed caused by the defendant, you'll be able to use this as proof that you're entitled to a financial judgment.  However, if the IME shows that your injuries are less severe than you claim, or were caused by a pre-existing condition, you may need to introduce additional evidence to demonstrate why the IME was faulty or improperly interpreted. 

What should you do to prepare for an IME? 

There are a few things you can do to help improve your odds of success in a claim in which an IME is ordered.

First, be sure a witness is with you while the IME is performed. This can be a family member, friend, or anyone with whom you're comfortable. In addition to providing moral support, this person will be able to observe the procedure and may later be able to testify on your behalf if you wish to dispute the results of the IME.

You shouldn't be afraid to ask lots of questions during and after the exam. If you're unsure why the doctor is focusing on a specific area, feel free to ask. You'll also want to find out when the doctor anticipates completion of the report, and ensure that you and your attorney receive a copy. 

Finally, you'll want to determine exactly how the doctor is affiliated with the defendant's insurance company. Often, IME results can be successfully refuted by showing that a doctor has a fiduciary interest against finding any positive results. By putting your request in writing, the insurance company will be required to let you know whether it employs this doctor or has any other type of compensation arrangement with him or her.