How Should You Handle an Independent Medical Exam (IME)?

If you’ve suffered an accident that has resulted in injuries, you’ll seek compensation from an insurance company and, in relevant cases, from any parties responsible for the accident.

In these cases, the insurance company or the parties responsible can request that you undergo an independent medical exam (IME) to verify the claims you’ve made about your injuries. Physicians who conduct IMEs must have the appropriate medical licensing, and you must not have received care from them.

For people who are coping with injuries in the aftermath of an accident, the idea of being examined by a doctor they don’t know can be daunting, possibly nerve-wracking, particularly because the outcome of the exam can affect the compensation they receive. Fortunately, there are ways to face this exam with greater calmness and confidence.

How Should You Handle Your IME?

Always be truthful. It’s critical that you remain truthful during your IME, making sure you answer questions without exaggerating or making up symptoms or medical problems.

Ask for clarification. If you’re unsure about what the physician at the IME is asking, don’t just guess. Request clarification to ensure that you understand and that your answer is truthful and relevant.

Don’t rush through your answers. To provide a clear picture of your injuries, you’ll need to supply the relevant details, including symptom duration and intensity. If you start rushing and skipping details, you’ll give an incomplete picture of your injuries, and this will affect your case. Rushing can also cause you to inadvertently provide contradictory information or supply details that aren’t necessary for the exam and that may even be used against you. When responding to a question, gather your thoughts and don’t try to hurry through the answer.

Organize your medical records. Whatever records you’re preparing to bring to the IME, check that you have all of them and that they’re well-organized. Also, at the end of the exam, make sure they’ve all been returned to you.

Practice in advance. Even if you’re honest and have nothing to hide, it still helps to practice for an IME beforehand. For example, you can meet with your attorney, who will ask you the kinds of questions typical for an IME. These include questions about the circumstances surrounding your injury, the location of the injury, its effects on your body (such as pain and immobility), its effects on your life (e.g. your ability to work or perform certain tasks), and your medical history (they ask about your medical history to get an idea of whether your injuries or current symptoms came about not from the accident, but from other reasons). Your attorney can then give you tips on how to present your information more effectively. Practice ultimately helps you organize your thoughts and arrive at the IME with more confidence about what you’ll face.

Learn about what’s inappropriate. Your attorney can help you prepare for the possibility that the physician conducting the IME will make an inappropriate request. For example, the physician shouldn’t try to administer a battery of psychological tests. Whether or not you think the physician behaved inappropriately, it’s always a good idea after the exam to write up what happened, including the kinds of questions asked, any comments that stood out to you, and how much time the physician spent with you (and what they did during that time).

Find effective ways to keep yourself calm. One of the mistakes people make with an IME is that they don’t give themselves enough time to get to the appointment. They arrive breathless, rushed, and stressed out. If you’re feeling nervous, think of ways to help make yourself more calm, such as breathing exercises or visually relaxing imagery.

If you need legal representation after an accident, please contact us. One of our duties as your legal advocate will be to help you prepare for your IME and ensure that you’re examined fairly.