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Understanding Independent Medical Examinations (IMEs)

The Fostel Law Firm Aug. 22, 2023

Among the available options to seek damages after a personal injury or negligent accident in Texas is filing an insurance claim. However, when you file an injury claim, the insurance provider may request you to get an independent medical examination (IME) from a medical professional who hasn’t treated you before. The purpose of the IME is to determine the magnitude of your injuries and answer questions regarding your injuries and health condition for compensation purposes. 

The Fostel Law Firm is dedicated to offering comprehensive guidance and skilled representation to clients in their injury cases. As an experienced Texas personal injury attorney, I can address any questions and concerns about independent medical examinations, including who needs one, who chooses the doctor, and what happens during the IME. The Fostel Law Firm is a nationwide practice and is willing to review cases from any state for no charge. 

What Is an Independent Medical Examination (IME)? 

An independent medical examination (IME) can be described as an independent assessment requested by the insurer to evaluate the extent of a claimant’s injuries. The independent medical examination is often performed by a physician or medical provider who hasn’t treated the patient previously. 

What’s more, the purpose of the IME is to help get a second, unbiased opinion about the extent of the claimant’s injuries and if they have a permanent injury or disability. Also, the IME will suggest the required medical treatments, loss of earning capacity, and ability to work in the future. 

In addition, the insurance provider will review the report provided by the IME doctor to determine fair compensation. However, there are different rules addressing who chooses the physician to perform the IME, depending on the jurisdiction. 

Who Needs an Independent Medical Examination? 

The insurance provider may request a claimant to perform an independent medical examination when: 

  • The insurer disagrees with the decision of the injured person’s private doctor. 

  • The injured person’s private doctor recommended expensive medical procedures or surgery. 

  • The insurer wants to determine the extent of your disability or lost earning capacity. 

Also, the hearing officer or judge handling your case may also recommend an independent medical examination to settle some disputes regarding your personal injury case. 

Who Chooses the Doctor for an IME? 

Essentially, the independent medical examination is an objective, unbiased evaluation of the claimant’s medical condition. Depending on the surrounding circumstances of the case, any party (including the claimant, defendant, insurance provider, or judge) may recommend an IME and choose a doctor. In some cases, the IME doctor may be selected from a random list of qualified physicians. However, the defendant or insurance provider is often responsible for covering the cost of the IME. 

Guidelines That the Physician Must Follow During IME 

According to statistics from the Texas Motor Vehicle Traffic Crash Facts, about 244,092 persons were injured in motor vehicle traffic crashes statewide in 2022. Here are some important guidelines that the doctor must follow when performing an independent medical examination: 

  • The defendant or insurer must provide the claimant with adequate details about the date, extent, nature, and venue of the examination. 

  • The defendant will only be allowed to perform one IME except when there’s a need for further examination. 

  • The IME doctor must be available for cross-examination by the other party’s attorney. 

  • The insurance provider or defendant will bear the cost of the IME.  

However, there is no doctor-patient relationship during an IME. Anything you tell the physician isn’t protected and may be used against you in court. An experienced attorney can evaluate the need for an independent medical examination and ensure that your rights are well protected during the medical evaluation. 

Why You Should Work With an Attorney 

An independent medical evaluation can have a massive impact on the outcome of your injury claims. I have the diligence and expertise to support and guide clients in complicated injury cases that require performing IME.  

As your legal counsel, I will investigate the process for choosing the IME doctor, prepare you for the IME exam, and ensure that the medical evaluation is transparent and seamless. Also, I will fight vigorously for your rights and help you seek your deserved financial compensation. 

Contact me at The Fostel Law Firm today to schedule a simple case evaluation with a practiced personal injury attorney. I can offer you the personalized legal counsel and compassionate representation you need in your claims. My firm proudly represents clients across Houston, Texas, and the Southeast New Mexico area.