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Understanding Independent Medical Examinations (IMEs)

Jose Orihuela, Attorney at Law Dec. 21, 2023

As a personal injury attorney, I've seen how Independent Medical Examinations (IMEs) can influence the outcome of a case. These examinations are integral to the legal process, helping to evaluate injuries and determine fair compensation for the injured party. In this blog, I'll shed some light on IMEs and their role in personal injury cases. 

An IME is an evaluation carried out by a neutral medical professional who isn't involved in your treatment. The goal is to assess your injuries, their cause, and potential long-term effects. Often, insurance companies or defense attorneys request IMEs to gather objective medical evidence and challenge your claims. 

Why Should I Get an IME?

As a personal injury attorney, I often counsel clients on the importance of an Independent Medical Examination (IME). An IME is a crucial part of many personal injury cases, and there are several key reasons why you might need one: 

  • One primary reason for an IME is to confirm that you did sustain injuries in the accident. It's not uncommon for the party being sued or their insurance company to question the existence of your injuries. An IME can provide objective evidence that you were indeed injured. 

  • Another reason is to affirm the severity of your injuries. Perhaps you've been examined and treated by your own doctor after the accident, and they've assessed the extent of your injuries. However, there might be concerns that your doctor is biased towards you. An IME can offer a second opinion that's independent and impartial. 

  • A third reason for an IME is to ensure that your injury claim isn't attributable to a different cause. In many cases, the opposing party might argue that your injuries were pre-existing or caused by another incident. An IME can help verify that your injuries were caused by the accident in question. 

  • Lastly, an IME can be required if the accident involves workers' compensation. If you're seeking payment for medical treatment or ongoing treatment for a new disability, an IME report can provide the necessary medical evidence to support your claim. 

Look at it this way: an IME isn't just about confirming your injuries. It's also about establishing the credibility of your claim and countering any attempts by the opposing party to dispute your injuries. It's a vital step in securing the compensation you deserve. 

The Process of Independent Medical Examinations

The IME process starts with choosing a qualified, impartial medical expert. This person should have knowledge in the specific area of medicine relevant to your injuries. Once chosen, you'll receive a notice detailing the date, time, and location of your examination. 

During the IME, the medical professional will conduct a comprehensive examination. They'll review your medical records, perform physical tests, and ask questions about your injuries and their impact on your life. It's vital that you provide accurate and detailed information for a fair evaluation. 

Once the examination is complete, the medical expert prepares a report summarizing their findings. This report includes an assessment of your injuries, their cause, any pre-existing conditions, and the likelihood of future medical treatment. This report is shared among all involved parties, including your attorney and the opposing party's insurance company or defense attorney. 

The Role of IMEs in Personal Injury Cases

Approximately 300,000 personal injury claims are submitted annually in the United States. Their commonality means insurance companies have had plenty of practice with negotiating and undervaluing claims, including those involving IMEs. 

IMEs can serve as a critical tool for insurance companies and defense attorneys to challenge your claims and potentially reduce your compensation. So it’s crucial that you and your attorney prepare for the IME and understand its possible impact on your case. 

Remember, IMEs aren't always objective and unbiased. The medical expert conducting the examination might have a relationship with the insurance company or defense attorney, which can influence their findings. I make sure my clients are aware of this potential bias and take steps to address it. 

The findings of an IME can also significantly affect the outcome of your personal injury case. It's essential for your attorney to carefully review the IME report, identify any inaccuracies or biases, and present counterarguments backed by other medical evidence or expert opinions. 

Protecting Your Rights During an IME

As your personal injury attorney, my primary goal is to protect your rights and interests throughout the IME process. Having legal representation during an IME is crucial to ensure a fair evaluation and prevent any potential manipulation or misinterpretation of the findings. 

I work closely with my clients to prepare them for the IME. I provide guidance on what to expect, how to answer questions, and how to accurately present their injuries. I also thoroughly review the IME report, identifying any discrepancies or biases that can be challenged in court. 

If the findings of an IME are unfavorable, it doesn't mean your case is over. I use my experience and knowledge to build a strong case based on other medical evidence, expert opinions, and your own testimony. I fight tirelessly to ensure you receive the fair compensation you deserve. 

Get Experienced Legal Insight

Understanding IMEs is crucial if you're involved in a personal injury case. I'm committed to providing my clients with the knowledge and support they need to successfully navigate the IME process. By being prepared, vigilant, and proactive, we can protect your rights and pursue the fair compensation you deserve.  

Reach out to my firm to schedule a free consultation. Together, we can discuss your case and how an IME can impact your compensation. I'm proud to serve a wide range of locations in and around the South Houston area. My firm is based in Webster and Houston, Texas, but my services extend far beyond these cities. 

I'm committed to making legal support accessible to as many people as possible. That's why I, Jose Orihuela, Attorney at Law, offer my services to clients throughout South Houston, Pasadena, Clear Lake, Friendswood, League City, Alvin, Dickinson, Bacliff, Kemah, Seabrook, and Santa Fe.