Written by attorney Terence Sean McGraw

Frequently Asked Questions about Independent Medical Examinations (IME)

What is an IME? It is an examination scheduled by your employer, its insurance carrier or third party administrator. The purpose of the IME is to obtain information about your injury from another source in order to evaluate or contest your injury. How is it independent? It isn’t. We prefer that you think of the examination as a “defense medical examination." The insurance company selects the doctor who is going to perform the examination from its list of approved doctors. Who do you think is on the list? That’s right, doctors who have told the insurance company what it wants to hear. Who performs these examinations? Doctors of all variety of skill and training do these examinations. Typically, we see doctors who are just starting out in practice and doctors who are winding down their practices. Both of these groups of doctors are looking for another way to add to their income by doing these exams. A smaller group consists of doctors who actually enjoy the work, which frequently involves testifying in legal matters. It is important to understand that money, and the promise of future income can influence opinions. Medicine is not an exact science. There is often room for reasonable doctors to come to different conclusions about the same case. That is why people seek second opinions when a legal claim is not involved. If an examining doctor could go either way on an opinion, do you think that he is going to go your way or go where the money is. Is the examining doctor required to follow the rules of the medical profession? Yes and no. Because the doctor will not treat you, no doctor-patient relationship arises as a result of the examination. What you tell the doctor is not privileged. The doctor has no legal duty to you. So, if his opinion is wrong, he cannot be sued. The doctor will not tell you what the doctor thinks and will not answer your questions. But, the doctor needs to be able to show that the examination was done according to normal protocols and that he reached his conclusions in a medically reasonable manner, otherwise the doctor’s opinion can be rejected by the court as inadmissible or as unbelievable. There is a lot of room for manipulation of the outcome. Will somebody from your office be going with me to the examination? In my experience, the only thing that happens when one of my staff or I go with you to the examination, is that causes the doctor to be more thorough and careful and reduces the chance that he will make one of the common mistakes that I can exploit later. Plus, under Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Law, the doctor can refuse to allow any one else in the examination other than another doctor or a nurse. Therefore, we do not typically accompany clients to their IMEs. Can anyone else be in the examination? No. When the nurse mentioned above is a nurse selected by you. If an insurance company nurse tries to attend the appointment with you, you have the right to object. If the doctor insists on you proceeding with the examination in the presence of the insurance company nurse, do not proceed with the examination. Am I entitled to payment for the cost of attending an IME? Yes, you can be reimbursed for our travel expenses. It is better if you get the costs paid up front. Otherwise, you will find that you have to chase your reimbursement for a long time or file a petition to get it. Use MapQuest to calculate your mileage and the current IRS mileage reimbursement rate to calculate the reimbursement. If you are going to use a toll road, don’t forget to look up the toll. Will the insurance company provide transportation? Yes. If you want the insurance company to provide transportation, please contact our office so we can make those arrangements. Just remember, the driver is not your friend. Talk about your favorite team or your favorite movie. Do not talk about your injury or your case. Are there things that I can do to prepare for my independent medical examination? Yes. You should prepare for your IME just like you would prepare for a test or you would prepare for testimony in court. Follow the tips below to have the most successful examination you can. If you have any questions after reviewing this, please contact the office.

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