Independent Medical Examination (IME)

By Josef Rappaport
May 2, 2022

If you have been injured and are making a personal injury or workers’ compensation claim, you may be asked to undergo an independent medical examination. In this article, we’ll define what this is and explain how it affects personal injury cases.

Key Takeaways

  • An independent medical examination (LME) is a medical exam performed by an independent, third-party physician
  • IMEs are commonly used in personal injury and workers’ compensation cases
  • Insurance companies can order IMEs when they want to challenge the findings of a claimant’s original physician

What Is an Independent Medical Examination?

An independent medical examination, also referred to as an IME, is a medical exam executed by a neutral, third-party physician. A doctor qualifies as independent if they were not previously involved in the treatment of the patient. An LME is used to evaluate the patient’s prior course of treatment and current condition. LMEs can be performed by doctors of many disciplines including MDs, psychologists, and other licensed healthcare professionals.

Independent Medical Examinations in Personal Injury Law

Independent medical examinations are a common part of personal injury, disability, and workers’ compensation cases. When an individual is injured and makes a personal injury insurance or workers’ compensation claim, they must submit evidence to prove that they were, indeed, injured in the way they maintain. It is common to submit medical records as evidence.

However, if the organization that is being requested for benefits disagrees with any conclusions the original physician reached, they can order an IME. Alternatively, judges can also order IMEs to settle disputes. Note that insurance companies have an interest in denying claims and/or offering minimal payouts. To that end, IMEs are a tool they can use to help them reject claims.

Physicians who perform IMEs are generally treated as experts by insurance companies and courts. For that reason, whatever they conclude is usually considered to be the truth. If the doctor performing your IME decides that your injury is not serious enough to match the damages you are asking for, like if they do not impede your ability to work significantly, your settlement will most likely reflect this opinion. 

Tips for Independent Medical Examinations

If you are scheduled for an IME, here are some tips you can follow that will help increase the chances that the physician will come to a conclusion that is favorable for your case.

  • Keep your attorney up to date about where, when, and with whom your IME is scheduled
  • Bring a written list of all of your symptoms so you don’t forget
  • Don’t exaggerate or be dishonest about your symptoms 
  • Do not elaborate or talk too much when answering the doctor’s questions. Be straightforward and to the point.
  • Take notes about the exam, when it starts and ends, what tests are performed, and so on. Give this information to your attorney.
  • Be mindful that everything you do and say is being observed, including how you walk and your small talk.

Remember, insurance companies choose physicians and conduct IMEs with the goal of rejecting or minimizing your claim. That is why it’s important to have legal counsel on your side who can represent your interest and help you receive a fair payout. It’s important to carefully scrutinize the IME report, which you should receive after the examination. An experienced personal injury lawyer can help you review the IME summary and, if necessary, help you come up with a strategy to challenge the findings.

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