Injured in a car accident? You may have to go see the insurance companies doctor at a so-called IME.

One unexpected consequence of being injured by the negligence of another driver is that you may be obliged to see a doctor of their liability insurers choosing. These so-called IMEs ( for Independent Medical Exam) are routine in lawsuits and sometimes are requested before a lawsuit is filed, either by the at-fault driver's insurance or even your own insurer, if you are seeking PIP ( personal injury protection) benefits.

As one can imagine, these doctors aren't seeing you to treat you or help you but rather to help the insurance company pay you less in benefits and compensation. These doctors make enormous amounts of money from the exams and the insurance companies know which doctors are most likely to opine that you aren't that hurt and don't require any more treatment.

Often these opinions fly in the face of the opinions of your treating doctor and result in liability insurers arguing that much of the injured victim's treatment and/or lost time from work is unnecessary. The pool of physicians typically utilized for IMEs is quite small but they are well trained in the art of knocking holes in accident claims.

Many receive forensic training to make them more effective in court and often their far-fetched opinions are often accepted by jurors rather then those of treating doctors, despite the fact that the IME doctor has only seen the injured party once and the treating doctors have seen them numerous times.

So do you have to go see these doctors? The answer is generally, yes. If you are in a personal injury lawsuit and such an exam is requested in a timely manner you have very little choice unless there are extraneous reasons not to attend such as the doctor being located in too distant a location.

Similarly, your own auto insurer often has a policy provision that enables them to request such an exam if you are claiming PIP benefits. These exams were all the rage with insurers 10 or 15 years ago but seem to be less frequently sought in the present day.

The bottom line expect to be sent to an IME if you are seeking compensation for permanent injuries.

Robert V. Clark
Maryland Car Accident and Personal Injury Lawyer