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Car Accident Cases in New York: What is an Independent Medical Examination?

— November 18, 2021

Solid documentation and evidence are necessary, but you won’t have any trouble with experienced lawyers at your side.

One of the things you must prioritize after getting into an accident is your medical care. Even if you don’t feel any pain right now, there might be injuries hiding under the surface that have yet to take effect. It can be challenging to admit that you had an injury because of the recklessness of another party. It happens, and they’re a common occurrence with car accidents in New York.

However, you can undergo several medical examinations, and not all will be for your benefit. Here’s what you need to know about independent medical examinations (IME).

What is an Independent Medical Examination?

A defense lawyer can issue an independent medical examination. The doctors connected with the defense law firm do these examinations. You’ll undergo a doctor’s appointment and testing with an organization connected to that firm. Even though it has a name “independent,” there is an inherent bias with this approach.

This is the reason some also call it the Defense Medical Examination (DME), as its goal is to try and negate your claim. The lawyer will ask the doctor the extent of the injury and its relation to the car accident. The doctor can declare that your injuries aren’t significant at all or have no connection to the accident. This is their attempt to reduce the liability of the defendant — the person that you’re trying to receive rightful compensation from.

Do I Have to Accept an Independent Medical Examination?

While you have a right to privacy when it comes to your medical information, it’s a different circumstance when you’re contesting a claim. As your body is a focal point of the case, you’ll have to submit to any examination requested by the defense. If you do not do so, the court can see it as a lack of compliance and dismiss the case.

Image of a Stethoscope and medical charts
Stethoscope and medical charts; image courtesy of
DarkoStojanovic via Pixabay,

While they can forgive missing an appointment due to unexpected events like bad weather, the court will not accept it when it happens many times. You might also have to pay fees which can reduce your claim if you miss an appointment.

Is It a No-Fault Examination?

No-fault examinations happen when the doctor is examining you to try and dismiss the case because of the lack of substantial injuries. An IME is not the same as this. While an independent doctor examines your injuries, their goal is different. They want to find out if the care you received justifies the money that the insurance company will pay.

This usually happens when they want to dispute the initial prognosis. The defense might also order it if you have a surgery scheduled. The IME is closely tied to the insurance as they’re trying to see if there is a need for expensive medical treatment.

In some cases, a no-fault examination is beneficial because the goal is more objective. They will inform you whether there is a significant injury requiring treatment. In both cases, if they’re siding with the defense or have connections to the insurance company, it could still have some bias. They want to push the liability to someone else or reduce the chance of paying.

What Do I Do?

IMEs often happen when the injury isn’t distinguishable. The defense will likely avoid this move if you have a noticeable injury like a fracture or disfigurement. They’ll even try to hold an IME after your injuries physically recover, but some symptoms persist.

The best thing to do in this scenario is to hire a lawyer to handle your case. They can balance the scales by making sure that the doctor checks all facets of your injuries. They will fight for your rights and answer the doctor’s questions if they’re trying to be intrusive. There are some scenarios where the doctors will try to pry statements related to the car accident to help the defendant’s case.

Don’t challenge them on your own, as they can use your words and actions against you. Do not try to be brave and hide any injuries you see and feel or go beyond the limits if you know you cannot do it. If it’s uncomfortable and painful, then say so.

It can be embarrassing to show a vulnerable side of you, but it will help you get a fair judgment. At the same time, you should avoid exaggerating an injury. The doctors will know if you’re trying to fake it, which could cause your exaggeration to backfire. Being honest about your injuries and having a lawyer at your side will be the best move.

Can I Challenge an Independent Medical Examination?

If you feel that the IME is making unwarranted statements, your lawyers can challenge your case. They can tell the defense that you have other professionals verifying your injury. If the court deems that their proof is mistaken, the compensation you could get can even be higher.

Solid documentation and evidence are necessary, but you won’t have any trouble with experienced lawyers at your side. You can even ask a doctor to respond to the IME report if you feel it is a necessary move.

Get Help from a New York City Personal Injury Lawyer Right Away

If you have received an injury in a car accident, you’ll want to get medical help right away. While you are pursuing a case, getting into an independent medical examination may be unavoidable. It can be an intimidating event, but you can go through it with the help of a personal injury lawyer. Your lawyer can prepare you for the examination, so you know what to do.

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