Will There Be an Independent Medical Examination in My Car Accident Claim?

If you have filed a lawsuit over injuries you suffered in a car accident, chances are you will be required to submit to an examination by a doctor other than your own. This step in the lawsuit is known as an "independent medical examination" (or "IME") and it's conducted by a doctor chosen by the defendant (the at-fault driver) or, more accurately, by the defendant's insurance company (and their lawyers). Read on to learn more about the IME, and why it's not actually "independent."

Car accident cases involving serious injuries can result in large settlements (before trial) or court judgments (after trial), typically paid by the insurance company representing the driver who caused the accident. Since the insurance company is on the financial hook, they want to verify that: you have indeed suffered an injury the injury is as serious as you say it is and the injury was caused by the car accident (and not some pre-existing condition, for example.

An IME is the mechanism by which the insurance company can best obtain this verification. The independent physician presumably has no bias in favor of either the plaintiff or defendant, and can therefore make objective findings about the alleged injuries. That's the theory anyway. In practice, the insurance company and the chosen physician usually have a working relationship, and it's not uncommon for an IME doctor to play down the claimant's injuries.

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