No matter how much I tell my clients to remain calm before and during their Independent Medical Examinations, the stress always is palpable. Once again, relax. We are talking here about just one cursory medical examination by a physician who has been hired by defendant’s insurance carrier. And going in, you should know that this physician likely will present a report that is favorable to his or her client – said insurance carrier.
However, that does not mean that there aren’t some things you can do to lessen the tension. First, remain calm. That is crucial because if you go into the exam a nervous wreck, you are liable to say or do something that could damage your case. And, it also pays to be on time. You should assume this doctor is not there as your advocate, so why give him/her any reason to be annoyed with you.
I am repeating myself when I say that neither the insurance carrier nor the IME doctor are your friends, so don’t expect to make any kind of doctor-patient connection. Answer questions when asked, and answer them honestly. But remember to be specific and comprehensive; do not forget to tell this doctor about everything that is bothering you. If you leave out a symptom or discomfort, and it surfaces later in the case, opposing attorney could make you appear untruthful.
The other extreme, of course, is over-dramatizing your symptoms. We all have an image in our minds about that injured plaintiff who wears a neck brace to court – usually in some comedy sketch. Yeah, the audience always laughs because we are in on the joke – we know THAT guy is, shall we say, embellishing on his condition. Don’t do that. Remember that you don’t have to be wearing a neck brace, walking on crutches, or be bedridden in order to be genuinely hurt or disabled. In fact, sometimes, hidden injuries are the most severe. Tell the truth as you know it and as you feel it. When you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything except the truth.
Before your IME, it also is a good idea to go over the details of your accident AND your medical treatment in your own mind. Make a list, if you need to, of the timeline of your treatment as well as all of the specialists you’ve treated with. List all of the diagnostic tests you’ve had, and be prepared to answer questions about medications and physical therapy, if you are asked.
If after all of this preparation you still feel apprehensive about going to your IME appointment, you might want to speak with your personal injury attorney about arranging for a medical professional to accompany you. You have the right to have a nurse, for example, join you in the exam room. The nurse will be on your side. He or she can take notes, watch how the doctor conducts the examination, and report back to your attorney. All the facts about your IME will be documented, and you will not be alone.