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Guide to Independent Medical Examinations in Michigan Car Accident Cases

What is an Independent Medical Exam (IME)?

Independent medical examinations also known as IME’s are medical evaluations performed for the purpose of clarifying clinical and legal case issues, particularly after injuries resulting from a car accident. The evaluation is performed by an independent evaluator or doctor, meaning one who has not previously been involved in the injured party's medical care. The evaluator performing the exam is paid for by the auto insurance company. Exams can be performed by a variety of doctors, including a pain doctor, chiropractor, neuro-psychologist, and more.

Who requests IME’s?

IME’s are usually requested by insurance companies following a Michigan car accident in which injuries have occurred and the injured party is suing to receive compensation for those injuries. The injured party must comply with the IME and the insurance company has the power to choose who the IME evaluator will be for the case.

Why are IME’s requested?

IME’s are requested in legal cases in which liability is an issue. Insurance companies want to pay out the least amount of compensation possible to the injured party; the injured party wants the insurance company to cover all medical expenses that they believe have resulted from the accident that occurred. In Michigan, independent medical examinations are common. This is because Michigan is a no-fault state which means the insurance company is responsible for payment of your no-fault benefits (medical bills, lost wages, nursing care and more).

Why are IME’s a controversial topic?

IMEs are controversial because the quality of evaluations and evaluators varies. As noted by the American Board of Independent Medical Examiners, it is difficult to identify skilled, thorough and unbiased examiners. Although training has been provided by several professional societies, before ABIME there was no national quality certification process.

Another controversial aspect of IME’s is that insurance companies can choose which doctors the injured person must visit to obtain the exam. It has been speculated that when this occurs it is likely for the doctor to write an evaluation in favor of the insurance company, stating that the injuries are not as a result of the accident or the injured party is not injured at all. This is because the doctor is paid by the insurance company and therefore is pressured to tell the insurance companies what they want to hear so that they can try to deny your claim.

What is the process like for an Independent Medical Examination evaluation?

IME evaluations can vary, but they are usually similar in nature to a regular physical with additional discussion about the injured party's injuries from the car accident. They can include any of the following areas of discussion:

  • Identifying data: this includes background information on the examinee, such as name and age, as well as a brief overview of the injuries, doctors already seen, and the law firm representing the injured person.
  • Pre-existing injuries, accidents or diseases: background into past medical issues that could have had an impact on the current injuries.
  • History of present illness: background information as to how the examinee obtained the current injuries, with a description of the scenario that caused them, including the date, time and location of the accident.
  • Past medical history: doctor will note any past diseases, family history, and any allergies the examinee has had in the past.
  • Past surgical and non-surgical hospital history: doctor will note any past surgeries or hospitalization stays and the causes and details of each.
  • Medications: doctor will ask if the examinee is taking any medications currently.
  • Physical exam: the doctor may do a physical exam of the extremities, joints, vitals and specific injured body parts.
  • Social, family, occupational, and functional histories and daily activity: doctor may ask about examinee's daily life in order to get a full picture of the examinee's day-to-day lifestyle.
  • Report: an overview of the doctor's findings and his report on the examinee.

Although the list above is extensive, it is possible that an evaluator will not put extensive time and effort into evaluating injured persons. Again, this is because they are paid by the insurance companies and will often try to help the insurance company keep more money in their pocket. It is important to document how long the appointment lasted and if the evaluator did a thorough examination.

What Do I Do If I Am Sent A Request For An IME?

If you are a victim of Michigan auto accident and are sent a request for an IME you have to go. Michigan Supreme Court has held that insurance companies can request these exams at will with little recourse for the claimant to prevent them from occurring. If you do not go, you take the risk of the insurance adjuster throwing out your claim all together.

The results of these IME’s are often the same – our Goodman Acker P.C. lawyers see it all the time. The injured individual goes to the examination and the doctor state’s that the victim does not require the care or treatment they have been receiving for their injuries for reasons varying from the person is not injured to do not require as much treatment. Allstate and State Farm are notorious insurance companies for doing this.

What Do I Do if the Insurance Company Cuts Off My Benefits After an IME?

You may not be able to avoid going to an IME but at the law offices of Goodman Acker P.C. we can help you if you have been cut off or denied benefits after an IME. For over 30 years, our car accident lawyers have been helping injured victims and their families combat the unreasonable insurance companies and we can do the same for you. In fact, before you even go to your IME is in your best interest to speak to an attorney to discuss your claim and have a better understanding of your rights. We also recommend you download ours to have a better understanding of what you should and should not say to the insurance adjuster.

Filing a suit against the insurance company not only requires experience but an in-depth understanding of no-fault law. Our Detroit car accident attorneys will use our experience, knowledge and skill to protect your interests and ensure you get the benefits they are entitled to. Without experience and knowledge on your side, you are taking the chance of being cut off and possibly at a loss with your medical bills.

Call today at (248) 793-2010 to learn more on how our Michigan car accident lawyers can help you. There is no cost or obligation to do so and we will be able to give you the advice you need so that you do not ruin your claim.