Yesterday we discussed so-called "Independent Medical Examinations" ("IMEs") which are scheduled to assist insurance defense lawyers and insurance companies that seek to deny, delay and discount claims for health care and medical expenses after a car or truck crash. This is why you need a personal injury attorney if you are seeking payment for your injuries. Without the help of a lawyer’s experience and expertise, you could walk away from the table empty-handed. You have two strategies in this process. Keep the insurance company doctor’s examination honest, and take steps to have your own expert to counter any adverse results. In today’s post we will discuss the former, tomorrow the latter action to take.
You have the right to have a witness attend the exam with you. Even combatants going to a duel would bring their "seconds." At ABRAMS LANDAU we recommend that you do not go alone. However, if the person going with you is not a relative, the physician may be able to not allow them to attend. Ask someone such as a sister, brother, spouse, or adult child to attend the IME with you. Remember, "the best surprise is no surprise," so call ahead to make sure that you can have someone with you and to find out if any paperwork, films (such as x-rays) or other material is needed in advance.
In most states, it is legal to record your exam with a voice or video recorder after disclosure that you are doing so. This will be powerful evidence if the insurance company physician’s report diverges from what you have recorded. And you can also document the examination yourself. Wear a watch. You’ll need to include the time you arrive and leave for the appointment, and precisely when the examination begins and ends. Write down how long the doctor spends talking with you and how much time conducting a physical exam. Usually the part spent actually examining you is very short. After you leave the examination, write up a summary of the exam, including questions asked and any relevant comments by the doctor. It is a free medical appointment, so ask questions. The insurance company doctor can always simply refuse to answer; but then it will be clear that he or she is not there to help or advance the health of the person being examined.
Knowing how to document the exam is a major reason you want to retain an attorney. He or she can advise you on the information you will want to collect and record, your rights on taping, videoing, and who can be with you at the exam (or wait for you in the waiting room, as Doug Landau of the Landau Law Shop has done many times). You will also want your lawyer’s advice on how to behave at the exam, what information to disclose and not to disclose, and how to answer specific questions.