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What is an Independent Medical Exam in a Car Crash Claim?

medical records

If you suffer injuries in an Atlanta, GA accident, you must be able to show that your injuries are caused by the car crash. It is only after you prove this that you may be able to recover damages from your own insurer or the insurer of an at-fault driver. An Atlanta car accident lawyer can help you prove your crash-related injuries in negotiations with an insurer as well as in a court of law.

In general, you must be able to produce the medical records backing up your claim. An expert witness, such as your physician, may also testify in your favor to further cement your claim for damages.

However, insurance companies do not readily accept medical records or testimony from your own physician. Instead, an insurer may ask you to undergo medical evaluation by an independent doctor. This is known as an independent medical examination.

What is an Independent Medical Examination (IME)?

An IME is simply a medical examination where you are asked to go to an independent doctor and undergo medical evaluation. The purpose of the exam is to get a second opinion about your crash-related injuries.

The caveat is that the doctor conducting an IME is chosen by an insurance company and performs routine IMEs for the insurer. This means that the doctor is highly likely to be biased in favor of the insurance company.

What Happens at an IME?

You and the insurance company agree upon a date on which you will visit the independent doctor. On this agreed-upon date, you visit the doctor at the specified time. The doctor then asks you about your injuries, possibly reviews your previous medical records, and then performs a thorough evaluation to understand the nature and severity of your injuries.

As noted above, an IME doctor is typically biased in favor of the insurer. This means that the doctor will try to find reasons to downplay your injuries or claim that your injuries are not related to the crash. If you are asked by an insurer to undergo an IME, you should:

  • First confirm whether an IME is legally required. Details on this are provided below.
  • Consult your lawyer about it.
  • Make sure you carefully prepare for the IME with the help of your lawyer.
  • Stick to the facts during the IME but be as thorough and detailed as possible about your actual medical symptoms such as pain. However, you must avoid exaggerating or falsifying your symptoms.
  • Take a friend, family member, or a medical expert with you if possible. They can witness the proceedings of the IME and provide a second opinion as to whether or not the doctor was biased.
  • Keep track of time and be sure to note how long the exam took. This can be valuable information for your car crash claim.

Is an IME Mandatory?

An IME is not mandatory for most car crash claims. However, you may be required to undergo an IME if:

  • You have filed a personal injury lawsuit for crash-related damages.

In such a case, the insurer may ask the court to have you undergo an IME so that the defendant can have first-hand medical information about your injuries. If the court orders it, you will have to undergo the IME. However, your lawyer can sometimes convince the court that an IME is not needed in the presence of all the medical evidence. If the court is convinced, the defendant’s request for an IME can be turned down.

  • You are seeking damages under PIP coverage.

Although this is rare in Georgia, a car crash claim may involve recovering damages under Personal Injury Protection coverage. It is typically a requirement for this kind of coverage that you undergo an IME before your claim is accepted. Refusing to undergo the exam may have your claim denied.

In most other scenarios, you are typically not required to submit to an IME. However, it is best to consult a good lawyer before you determine whether or not you should agree to a request for an IME.

Why Hire an Atlanta Auto Accident Lawyer?

If you have filed a car crash claim in Atlanta, GA and the insurer has requested an IME, it is imperative that you consult a good lawyer at the earliest. Here at Ted Greve & Associates, we have a long experience of helping Atlanta car crash victims. Our lawyers can advise you whether or not you are required to agree to an IME and if you must submit to one, how best to proceed with it. Get in touch with us now to discuss your Atlanta crash claim with our lawyers.