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What is an Independent Medical Examination in a Car Accident Case in New York?

| Jul 14, 2020 | Car Accidents

Do I Have to go to an Independent Medical Examination in a Car Accident Case in New York?

Independent Medical Examination in a Car Accident Case in New York

There are many uncomfortable parts about being in a car accident.  The first is admitting that you have been seriously injured due to someone else’s reckless, careless, or negligent conduct.  Most people do not want to admit this that someone harmed them in an accident, but it is a very common occurrence that our Queens car accident lawyers know happens all too often.  The next part of a car accident case that can be uncomfortable for some people is releasing their medical records and going through a medical examination by a doctor not of their choosing.  This could be through no fault insurance, or this could be through the defense lawyer.  Learn about an independent medical examination in a car accident case in New York and the what, when, why, and how from Cohen and Cohen Law Group, P.C.

Because here at Cohen and Cohen, our dedicated Queens car accident lawyers know that an “independent medical examination” is far from “independent.”  This is why it is important for individuals who have been injured in a serious Queens car accident or any other New York City personal injury accident to have a trusted and experienced law firm on their side.  We have worked with victims and their families after some of the most catastrophic accidents, including disabling, debilitating, and even fatal accidents.  If you have been seriously injured, you should call to learn how we can help in a FREE consultation.

What is an Independent Medical Examination?

Independent Medical Examination in a Car Accident Case in New York

Also known as a medical exam or IME, an independent medical examination is an appointment set up by the defense lawyer who often times uses their own doctor, pays the doctor, wants the doctor to say there are no injuries, asks the doctor determine the extent of the injury, and asks the doctor whether the injury was caused by the crash.

As you can tell, there is nothing “independent” about this doctor!

A defense lawyer uses an IME, or really a defense medical examination or DME, it help fight against your claim of injury or causation.  This means that a defense lawyer wants the doctor to say that your injuries are mild or moderate, but not “serious” like New York law requires a plaintiff to have in a car accident in order to commence a lawsuit.  A defense lawyer also wants the DME doctor to say that the injuries were not due to the Queens car accident, but due to other pre-existing injuries or “degenerate” conditions.  This is particularly true of back or neck injuries, where our Queens car accidents lawyers at Cohen and Cohen have heard DME doctors say that 20 and 30-year-olds have degenerative disc or back conditions all to wiggle out of liability!

So anytime you are assigned to go to a DME, you should know that this doctor is not on your side.

Do I have to Go to an IME/DME?  Even With my HIPAA Rights?

Independent Medical Examination in a Car Accident Case in New York

Yes, under New York law a party is entitled to full disclosure of all contested issues in the litigation.  While everyone has HIPAA rights to privacy, once you commence a personal injury action you put your body in contention.  This waives your rights to privacy for protected health information.  Therefore, a defense lawyer is entitled to learn about your protected health information, including having their doctor examine you.

If you fail to appear to an independent medical examination in a car accident case in New York, your case could even be dismissed.  While it is unlikely to happen the first time, especially if there was bad weather, your disability stopped you from going, or you genuinely missed the appointment, if you may have your case dismissed if you miss a second or third IME/DME.  You may also have to pay for a missed IME, even if it is the first time.  

Is a IME/DME the Same as a No Fault IME?

Yes and no.  Like an IME/DME, a no fault IME is by an independent doctor who is examining your injuries after a motor vehicle accident.  While that doctor is assessing whether your injuries are related to the Queens car accident and the severity of your injuries, that no fault IME doctor is not looking at whether you suffered a “serious” injury under New York insurance law.  Meaning, that doctor is not looking to dismiss your case.

Independent Medical Examination in a Car Accident Case in New York

This is because a no fault IME doctor is trying to assess whether your care and treatment has been appropriate and medically necessary for the insurance company to keep paying, especially if you might need surgery or if your treating doctors disagree over your prognosis or needed treatment.

A no fault IME can actually help your claim, because most times they are looking at your injuries more objectively.  You pay for insurance, and the no fault IME doctor is looking to determine whether you should get what you paid for essentially.  Technically, you and your insurance are on the same side with the IME doctor checking for medical necessity.  And you pay for a limit of no fault coverage, which your insurance company knows they are on the hook for and will continue no fault benefits as close to that limit and up to the limit.

That does not mean that a no fault IME doctor will not try to minimize your injuries, however.  Sometimes a no fault IME doctor will be hired to review your injuries and primed by the insurance company to determine whether you still need treatment that has been ongoing.  That includes if you are approaching the limit or hit the limit already and no fault does not want to continue paying, or wants to push the liability to someone else.  That is when a no fault IME doctor could turn on you.

How to Handle an Independent Medical Examination in New York

You will most likely have to go through an IME unless you have a clear “serious” injury under New York law, which is most commonly a fracture.  However, even then you may have to go through an IME if your injuries persist.

When you go to an IME/DME, it is important to call your lawyer at Cohen and Cohen what things you should make sure the DME doctor checks and does not check.  You will want to make sure your rights are protected incase the DME doctor asks questions related to the happening of the accident and tries to get you to admit other facts.  It is usually a good idea to be familiar with your medical record and review it before a DME.

It is important to understand that you cannot play superhero.  If something hurts, say it and show it.  Do not try to stretch beyond your limits.  Do not hide pain or discomfort.  This can all hurt your case.  But by the same token, do not exaggerate because there may be some fake tests to measure whether you are truly experiencing pain or no lying about it.  Just be honest and do not hide any pain.

After Your Queens Car Accident, Call Our New York City Personal Injury Lawyers to Protect Your Rights

If you have been seriously injured in a motor vehicle accident, you may need to undergo an independent medical examination in a car accident case in New York.  This can be a scary event, but it is a necessary event.  Learn how our Queens car accident lawyers at Cohen and Cohen Law Group, P.C. can help prepare you for your examination by calling for a FREE consultation by dialing 800-247-8164 for a free case evaluation or use our convenient and easy-to-use contact us box available here to get started today with our law firm.

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