Hi, I’m John Griffith. I’m a personal injury trial lawyer practicing law in the state of Tennessee. If you’ve been injured in the state of Tennessee due to the negligence of someone else, there’s a good chance that you’ve been asked to attend what’s called an IME.
What is that? IME stands for Independent Medical Examination. What does that mean? First of all, there’s nothing independent about it. This examination is something you’ve been asked to attend by the insurance company and their lawyers who are trying to defeat your claim. This examination has been asked for by the insurance adjustor or the defense attorney representing the insurance company of the person who’s caused your harms and losses.
So how is this doctor selected? This doctor is selected usually by the defense attorney representing that insurance company.
Chances are this defense attorney has used the same doctor over and over again in previous attempts to defeat claims like yours.
So why do these doctors agree to do this? They go to medical school to help you right? Well, the truth is a lot of them do it as a side business for supplemental income. They protect the amount that they are paid and will fight not to disclose it to you. Occasionally, some doctors have testified that they earn well over six figures income as a side business doing IME’s for insurance companies. I prefer to call an IME what it truly is and that is a defense medical examination, or a DME.
Tennessee Independent Medical Exam Tips
So what are six things to do to protect yourself before you go and attend this defense medical examination?
1. Always take a friend with you to the IME.
You need to always, always take a friend or family member with you to attend these medical examinations? Why? Because you need a witness to support you and your version of the events as they occur once you set foot inside that doctor’s examination room, or inside the waiting room.
2. Document the time of your arrival, time waiting, and the amount of time the doctor spent with you, as well as the time you leave.
Make sure that you document the time that you arrive at the defense medical examiner’s office. Many times these doctors will make you wait 30 minutes to an hour, sometimes two hours before they see you after the time that you’re scheduled to be seen. Make sure that you tell your story from how they have such little disregard for your time. Once you begin seeing the doctor, record the actual time that the doctor spends with you. Many times doctors will later testify they spent a lot of time with you in an effort to appear very thorough and giving you proper attention, when in actuality that is simply not true.
3. Be very careful of the paperwork you complete at the doctor’s office.
The third thing you need to know is that you need to be careful when you first arrive to the doctor’s office and you’re filling out paperwork. I prefer not to allow my clients to fill out paperwork that deals with asking questions as far as how the incident has occurred or extensive questions about their medical treatment. Why? Because the defense lawyer has already forwarded all of your medical records to that examining doctor and he or she knows about your medical history already. Many times they’ll use that as a question and answer session in order to defeat your claim about how the injury occurred or some treatment that you may have forgotten about later on and use it against you. Many times these same doctors who have been used over and over by the defense attorney are trained in litigation techniques and they’re used as a tool by the insurance company to try to make you look like an exaggerator or a liar or simply that you’re just being dishonest.
4. Make sure to do your best on all tests and give 100% effort.
The fourth thing that you need to know is to make sure that if you’re asked to complete a task by the doctor, to make sure that you give 100% full effort. Always be honest with your words and with your effort to the doctor. There are tests that they use that trick you to determine if you’re malingering or exaggerating or putting on a show for the doctor. Always be honest.
5. Consider asking your lawyer to get the IME videotaped.
The fifth thing you need to consider is you need to consult with your lawyer about requiring the examination to be video taped. Many doctors who know that the examination was not recorded will exaggerate… they’ll say that the client was late, they’ll say that the client was rude, they’ll say that the client didn’t give full effort. It really turns into what the doctor said versus what you say. Many times jurors will give higher credence to these doctors who they may not realize do these IME’s/ DME’s as a side job for insurance companies. Make sure that the truth is exposed about how some of these doctors operate to try and defeat your claims.
6. Always be cooperative, courteous and respectful to the doctor.
The last rule to remember is always be courteous and respectful to the doctor. These doctors get repeat business from these insurance companies for a reason – they deliver results, destroying claims like yours. These doctors are not your friend no matter how nice and courteous they may be to your face. Don’t help them out by making a scene and being unreasonable and disagreeable.
Even when you are 100% cooperative and pleasant, many times the doctors will turn right around and put in their report that your pain has nothing to do with the wreck that you were involved in and is due to some other totally unrelated cause. This is exactly what the insurance company wants them to say. If the IME doctor agrees with your doctor and supports your injury claims being related to the wreck caused by the defendant insured with that insurance company behind all of this, then the IME doctor would not be involved in the case any further. Think about that. If the IME doctor agrees with yours, then he would not be asked to give a deposition, and would not make as much money. Therefore, there is usually always a financial incentive for the IME doctor to take a stand against you. These doctors don’t hesitate to give a contrary opinion against fellow doctors. Even if they are wrong, there is no penalty at all against the IME doctor. He makes more money when he disagrees with your doctor.
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So remember – always be courteous, but keep your guard up – and these doctors are not your friend.
So why do I share this with you? I share this to give you information on the inside as to how personal injury cases are tried and litigated in the state of Tennessee. If you have questions about your case, call me. My number is 615-807-7900.