A so-called ‘independent medical examination’ is often necessary when a person has been injured in a car, pedestrian, motorcycle, truck, or scooter collision. An insurance company representative will most frequently request that the plaintiff undergo a medical examination by a doctor in a Nevada personal injury claim in which the victim has sustained a physical injury. A medical examination conducted by an independent third party is intended to determine the extent of injuries for a motor vehicle accident victim.
The injured victim is typically opposed to an IME in personal injury claims as a way of countering their argument about the serious nature of the injuries sustained. For this reason, they strive to minimize any financial obligation and final payment awarded by a lawsuit involving, for example, injuries sustained in slip-and-fall accidents, dog bites, and car accidents. Although independent medical examinations are justified, how can victims of injury be assured that they are receiving an impartial assessment?
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports, more than 35,000 nonfatal employers in Nevada reported nonfatal workplace injuries or illnesses last year, which translated into 3.5 incidents per 100 full-time equivalent employees.
How Do Independent Medical Examinations (IME) Work?
Any time a person is injured in an accident, they often receive the first medical care from a doctor of their choice. If transportation to an emergency room is not required immediately after an accident, most injured people will seek treatment from their attending physician.
In most cases, the party at fault or the insurance representative will request an IME when a personal injury claim is filed because of an accident. The doctors usually have specialized training or knowledge about the type of injury the claimant has suffered. They also usually have extensive experience conducting IMEs.
Although the review is referred to as independent, it is almost universally anything but. Ask any knowledgeable and experienced personal injury attorney. A doctor performing an IME is an employee (or at least representative) of the insurance company in most cases.
IMEs are notoriously biased against injured victims since they perform IMEs with the best interests of insurance companies in mind. It is unlikely that insurance companies will continue to pay more money for personal injury claims if IME doctors regularly provide findings that justify higher compensation rates.
How Impartial Is an Independent Medical Examination?
While an independent medical examination is supposed to be unbiased, many injured victims (as well as their lawyers) would say that it is not. It is virtually impossible for the physician performing the IME to be neutral in determining the results of the examination since they are selected by the insurance company to represent you. Because the IME doctors are chosen by the accused rather than the victim, they are in effect representing the insurer’s legal team. Given this fact, the doctors chosen should be treated as representatives of that team.
In fairness to the insurer, the rationale for an IME appears to be to offer a professional opinion that differs from that of the victim’s treating physician. It can be argued that an insurer is inevitably biased in favor of a patient who has suffered serious injuries that require intensive treatment, as the insurer is placed under their physicians’ care and supervision.
Nonetheless, this does not mean that a medical examination on the part of the insured or the accused is unbiased and inherently biased. Even so, IMEs are still the current standard for second opinions in a Nevada personal injury claim. For this reason, injured accident victims need to understand why an IME is necessary.
Can You Dispute Your IME Results?
The insurer should not only know what you think is unfair about the complaint if you have provided a corroborating witness, but it should also agree to confirm your claim with a third party. Also, you may consider sending the defendant’s insurer a copy of your medical records, highlighting any findings that refute the IME’s findings. A doctor’s medical records and diagnosis should be viewed as representative of more comprehensive, complete, and accurate screening, than a simple one-time IME.
It may also be worthwhile to determine how often the insurer and the IME doctor have consulted in the past, as well as the percentage of cases that ended with positive opinions coming from the IME.
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