One of the tools used by our personal injury lawyers is the Independent Medical Exam, “IME”. The IME can be used by both the Plaintiff and the Defendant to argue about the extent of the injuries sustained by the Plaintiff. In the typical IME the Plaintiff’s medical records are reviewed by a non-treating doctor who in many cases also sees the Plaintiff and conducts a physical exam. The doctor will compile a report and present opinions based on the records and exam. The opinion can be useful to bolster the opinion of the Plaintiff’s treating physician or when there are multiple treating physicians the IME doctor can be used to summarize and speak for all the doctors.
One typical IME is used when a client is involved in a very bad car accident. For example, a client involved in a car accident in Charlotte was seen by two different orthopedic doctors. Both doctors had conflicting views on whether the long term injuries the Plaintiff complained about were caused by the car accident. An IME was conducted by another orthopedic doctor who opined that the car accident was the cause of the Plaintiff’s long term condition. With the law in NC changing in 2011, making personal injury cases more difficult, the role of the IME becomes even more important to substantiate the Plaintiff’s injuries.
There are instances where the defense will request the Plaintiff submit to an IME. Depending on a number of factors including the Defense doctor, this should be avoided. While there are instances when this can’t be avoided, there are a number of ways to diminish the value of the IME opinion. For example, it is relatively simple to determine the number of IME’s the defense doctor has performed for the insurance carrier. Further, the Plaintiff’s personal injury attorney needs to look into the how many times the IME doctor has served as a witness for Plaintiffs. There are a number instances where we have found similar clinical findings by the doctor, for different patients, but their opinion was conflicting. This can be very difficult for the defense doctor to explain. Certainly, if the defense IME doctor’s opinion is helpful for your case there is no reason to hide it.
The IME does have its limitations. The obvious of which is that the doctor is not a treating physician. In many instances he or she can be seen as a hired gun. The only way to limit this argument is to work with credible doctors. Our personal injury lawyers only work with IME doctors of the highest caliber. These doctors are currently practicing as treating physicians, which limits the “hired gun” argument.
The IME is one tool among many available to you to help your case. To discuss the role of an IME or to discuss your case call (704) 714-1450 to make an appointment to speak with a personal injury attorney, or stop by the office during regular business hours. We will schedule an appointment that meets your needs. There is no fee for the initial consultation. Whether you call, come in the office or request a home visit you will speak directly with a personal injury lawyer who can answer your questions.