Picture this: You’re injured in a car accident caused by another driver. You are treating for your injury and told by an insurance company that you must attend an “Independent” Medical Examination because they don’t believe you are hurt as bad as you claim.
The word “Independent” is in quotes because the examination will be anything but independent. And IME can have a significant impact on your case. You need to be prepared! Althauser Rayan Abbarno injury attorneys prepare our clients for IMEs.
In some cases, the IME is scheduled by the at-fault driver’s insurance company. Unless you are in litigation, you do not have to comply with an examination request by the other driver’s insurance. If you are in litigation (a summons and complaint has been filed), you should have an attorney by this point! You do not have an obligation to cooperate with the opposing insurance company until such time as litigation is initiated.
Other times, you own insurance will schedule the IME or in the form of a Civil Rule 35 Examination. You have an obligation to cooperate with your own insurance because of the contractual relationship you have. This means- you agree to cooperate when you paid for insurance and signed the initial coverage documents. And, your insurance company agreed to cover you if you agreed to cooperate in the event you are injured.
Insurance companies often use “IME’s” to save money from paying you Personal Injury Protection (PIP) or Un/Under-Insured Motorist Insurance (UIM). In most cases, their medical examiners are “hired guns” willing to offer the right medical opinion to justify the goal- cut off your benefits. Their examiner often states you no longer need treatment or that treatment was not needed.
Unfortunately, IME opinions from insurance companies are treated like commodities . If you find yourself being requested to submit to an “Insurance Medical Exam,” here are a few suggestions.
First, we recommend you hire experienced injury attorneys like Althauser Rayan Abbarno. We recommend you schedule a consultation to meet with your attorney. You don’t need to driver to Tacoma or Seattle- Althauser Rayan Abbarno has offices in Centralia and Olympia and has delivered results for our clients for over 70 years.
The value of an attorney at this point in your case will greatly outweigh any cost or fee you might pay. At Althauser Rayan Abbarno, prepare our clients for the IME by reviewing the medical with them and showing them IME training videos. In addition, our attorneys can send someone to attend the examination with our clients, and in many cases, record the examination to ensure the doctor is being fair.
Second, whether you hire an attorney or not, be sure to start by reading your policy. The insurance company’s right to request an exam is contained within the insurance contract. Review it to make sure the company is not violating any of the policy provisions.
Third, make sure you give the examiner an accurate description of your prior health problems, current complaints, and the facts of the crash. You will most likely receive a questionnaire. If you miss a condition- it will be used against you. Any discrepancies will be used against you. This form will become evidence and can be used to help and hurt your claim.
Lastly, schedule an appointment with your doctor soon after attending your IME. Your
treating doctor can conduct a similar examination to dispute the results of the IME. In, many cases, our attorneys will work with your treating physician and request specific examinations and schedule our own IME with another doctor of our choosing.
Since 1946, Althauser Rayan Abbarno has represented victims of car accidents and workplace injuries. For a FREE consultation in Olympia or Centralia, call (360) 736-1301 or visit CentraliaLaw.com