Independent Medical Examinations and Miami Personal Injury Cases
Accidents happen every day, and one can only ever be so prepared. In the aftermath of an accident, many people look to their insurance companies to aid in the rehabilitation process and receive the coverage necessary to get back on their feet. Unfortunately, insurance companies often operate as large corporations where making money takes priority over ensuring the well-being and recovery of individuals looking to heal.
As a result, insurance companies tend to look to add to their bottom line any way they can. Often this comes at the expense and the welfare of the patients they have been entrusted to protect, and injured individuals end up being treated as adversaries in many Miami personal injury cases.
The consequence of which is that they treat people suffering from injuries as perpetrators in the commission of a crime, rather than unfortunate individuals dealing with a personal tragedy. An independent medical examination is the methodology insurance companies utilize to carry out their agenda, and a personal injury lawyer can assist individuals in making sure their cases are handled properly while working toward a positive outcome.
Requesting Independent Medical Examinations
Independent Medical Examinations, or IMEs, are generally ordered by the defendant, or an insurance company when it comes to most Miami personal injury cases, to affirm and/or verify that the injuries alleged by the injured party are accurate.
While in some cases, IMEs are ordered by an insurance company to merely ascertain the scope of one’s injuries, particularly in instances where the injured individual is not overly forthcoming for their liking, there are many other reasons they request them as well.
One such reason involves determining whether the injuries sustained are indeed believed to have resulted solely from the accident in question.
Sometimes the extent of an individual’s injuries can be exaggerated, especially when one has an existing relationship of some sort with the physician, so insurance companies may elect to have the plaintiff be subjected to an IME to determine the severity of their injuries as well.
Florida Law Surrounding IME Requests
Under Florida Statute 627.736(7)(a) an IME can be ordered whenever the physical or mental condition of an injured individual covered by personal injury protection or PIP, is material to any past, present, or future claim.
The examination is not only to be paid entirely by the insurer, but the insured must also be given ample notice of not only the date, time, and location the exam is to occur, but the scope of the exam as well.
When it comes to location, the exam is to occur within 10 miles of the insured’s residence unless a qualified physician is not available in that proximity. In the event there is not an available physician, the IME must be held in an area where the closest physician is available.
Negative Implications of IMEs
IMEs are ordered by insurance companies in Miami personal injury cases, which they have a right to request by law. However, the issue is that, although in theory, an IME is supposed to be free of bias, they are often marred by doctors who make a living by testifying in personal injury cases or are on the payroll of the insurance companies.
Thus, the insurance companies tend to be more concerned with the expertise of the doctors as conveyors of persuasive information, rather than in their prowess as impartial medical examiners.
Although allowed to request just one IME, if good cause can be shown by an insurance company to request more, one can, in theory, be subjected to numerous IMEs until the insurance company gets the result it wants.
Each time an IME occurs, however, an insurance company’s selected examiner is required to produce a report of their findings to include an introductory section, the injury dates, a history of the claim, notes detailing their medical exam, and a summary of conclusions including the provision of a diagnosis.
That being said, should the case be litigated, the insurance company must grant access to their IME physician for potential cross-examination by the plaintiff’s attorney at either deposition or trial should it proceed forward.
Contacting an Attorney
If you receive notice that you have been ordered to attend an IME, it is important that you gather together any medical records surrounding your injuries, arrive punctually, and that you keep your answers as brief as possible so as to not taint your case.
Given the potential adverse implications that a poorly handled IME can have on the outcome of your Miami personal injury case, it is recommended that you speak with an experienced Miami personal injury attorney.
In doing so, you will be advised as to your rights and your ability to receive just compensation for your injuries and damages as opposed to potentially failing to receive any financial or other relief at all.
Thus, in order to avoid being subject to insurance company strong arming, those who are party to a car or other permanently debilitating accident should consult a Miami personal injury attorney to assure they protect their rights as it relates to receiving just compensation for injuries sustained in their case.