You were in an accident and immediately sought medical attention. You start the process of filing a case in court with the help of a Tampa car accident attorney. All of a sudden, you are asked to submit to an independent medical examination (IME). What’s this all about?
If you have been in an accident, IMEs are only one of the reasons you need the expertise of a personal injury attorney. While you are usually required to submit to an IME when requested, you should know your legal rights in the event that this happens.
Contact the offices of Steinger, Green & Feiner today to schedule a free consultation with one of our experienced Tampa car accident lawyers. We are ready to help you today. Call (800) 316-8514 or contact us online to schedule your appointment now.
Why Do Insurance Companies Want IMEs?
It’s not unheard of for people to make fraudulent claims after car accidents. Some people believe that if they exaggerate their injuries they will be entitled to a larger payout.
Insurance companies know this and ask for medical examinations from their own physicians to curb the issue. There are also situations where an insurance company may question the judgment of a doctor or medical examiner even in a claim filed in good faith.
If an injury sounds more severe than the insurance company tables predict, they will request an IME in the hopes that their chosen physician will make a less-severe diagnosis.
If you claim minor injuries, you typically don’t have to worry about an IME. Insurance companies usually reserve IME requests for cases that involve potentially large payouts or serious injuries. But know that an insurance company exists to make a profit; if they can avoid paying out, they will.
Why Are These Exams Allowed In Court?
The short answer is a simple one: Florida law says it is. Statute § 627.736(7)(a) to be exact. It says, “Whenever the mental or physical condition of an injured person covered by personal injury protection is material to any claim that has been or may be made for past or future personal injury protection insurance benefits, such person shall, upon the request of the insurer, submit to a mental or physical examination by a physician or physicians.”
What this statute means is that an insurance company can request an IME for any reason, and the claimant has to comply if they want their claim to move forward.
What Should You Expect At Your IME?
Your IME appointment will be very similar to the exam conducted by your own physician. After the exam, they will review the diagnosis given to you by your doctor and take a close look at any treatments you were prescribed.
Think of this as just another doctor’s visit rather than an interrogation. However, avoid being led into making statements that could be interpreted as admitting your injury is not as debilitating as you initially claimed.
Be wary about statements of pain, how limited you are in your activities, and whether the injury showed up immediately after the accident. Answer all questions truthfully, but ask for clarification before answering ones that could be material to the diagnosis of how serious your injury is.
It should be noted that if you are being treated by specialists, chances are high that you will have more than a single IME.
Can Your Own Insurance Company Request an IME?
Yes. An IME is meant to protect the interests of an insurance company. This means that your own insurance company may request you undergo an IME.
Remember that insurance representatives are not looking out for you, they are looking out for their company’s money. If your insurance company requests an IME, you need someone who is on your side. A Tampa personal injury attorney can guide you through the process and even supervise the IME.
What Is the Difference Between an IME and a CME?
An Independent Medical Examination is different from a compulsory medical exam (CME). That said, the difference is merely technical, and, in most cases, there is little to no difference under Florida state law. A CME is typically requested in the case of suspected fraud.
This type of exam is most often requested by the defense or an at-fault party’s insurance company when someone is making a third-party Bodily Injury Liability (BIL) claim.
Why Do You Need a Tampa Car Accident Attorney?
You can certainly go to Tampa court without a car accident attorney. People do it every day. It’s not a requirement that you have a legal expert representing you in court, but it is a choice that can be in your best interest.
When you are injured in an accident and require medical care, it’s your right to seek compensation for your losses. But what you deserve is not always cut and dry. You may not be fully aware of your legal rights, and you may not be prepared to make all the provings needed for your claim to be successful. A Tampa car accident lawyer will be with you throughout the process, including when an IME or CME is requested by the opposing party.
You need someone prepared to assert your rights and help you avoid common pitfalls that could prevent you from obtaining all of the compensation you need.