The IME and Your Injury Lawyer

 

 

The insurance company has the right in every personal injury case to have you examined by a doctor it chooses. This examination represents the third stage of the discovery process. The insurance lawyers like to refer to this as an "independent medical exam" or an IME. The IME is anything but independent and no insurance lawyer will claim otherwise outside the courtroom, that is, not with a straight face. The doctors paid by the insurance company strain to offer opinions that help the insurance company. Also, the IME doctor’s medical skills may be secondary in importance to his skills at testifying in a compelling and convincing manner.

The IME doctor typically will be a friendly, professorial individual who speaks well in public. Trial lawyers know that juries can be more influenced by a doctor whose manner is likable than by a doctor whose medical credentials are superior.

 

Insurance companies employ "professional expert witnesses," that is, doctors who earn a major portion of their living on the witness stand. These doctors are particularly motivated to make findings that comport with the expectations and needs of the insurance companies that pay their salaries. Your lawyer brings out this bias during cross-examination of the doctor. If the jury likes and trusts this doctor, it will be inclined to believe that you were not hurt as badly as you and your doctors claim.

 

Smart Personal Injury lawyers take certain steps to assure that the client is treated fairly by the IME doctor. A lawyer should also make clear to the client what to expect during this examination.

 

There is a huge amount of discretion that doctors have in making their findings. Two doctors examining the same patient at the same time may offer dramatically different opinions depending upon who retained them for the exam. This may be shocking to you but it’s the shocking truth. Any personal injury attorney and any insurance company attorney will admit this to you. It’s just the way the personal injury war is fought.

 

Michael E. Seelie, PA has represented people in Jacksonville, Florida and the surrounding communities of Orange Park, St. Augustine, Green Cove Springs, Callahan, Palatka, Fernandina Beach, Gainesville, and Lake City in accident cases since 1978.