Per Diem Attorney Blog

IME Coverage - The Importance of Representation at the Appointment

Oct 8, 2020 8:57:49 AM / by ZR Per Diem

independent medical exam cartoon

Are you losing money for your clients and your firm by allowing plaintiffs to attend IMEs alone? 

Are your plaintiff clients answering questions, submitting to testing and providing information to examining defense doctors without you knowing about it? Are the defense doctors examining your clients violating your client’s rights by asking inappropriate questions and soliciting information detrimental to your case? 

If you answered YES to any of these questions or if you thought to yourself, “Hmmm” why not send an IME coverage attorney to escort your clients and enjoy the peace of mind of knowing that you’ve protected your case and your investment? 

What is an Independent Medical Exam (IME)?

Independent Medical Examinations, or IME’s, sometimes called DME’s or defense medical exams, are anything but independent. If you are reading this post, you already know how defense oriented these so-called “independent” exams are and how the doctors who perform them are paid by the insurance companies on the hook for the claims against their clients.  

We all know that these exams can be cursory, brief and lacking in substance. If we’ve been practicing for a while we’ve also run into the tactics used by some of these examining physicians:

  • Exams in under 5 minutes;
  • Asking for extensive past medical history information unrelated to the accident;
  • Requesting a recitation of the facts of a case beyond what is needed to evaluate an injury; 
  • Refusing to allow the plaintiff to be accompanied to the examination; 
  • Refusing to allow the plaintiff to have an interpreter present; 
  • Attempting to conduct invasive testing;
  • Conducting testing that is irrelevant to the injury in question. 

An Independent Medical Exam Can Be Stressful For Your Client

Stories about “exam services” are rampant in the industry. From hugely crowded waiting rooms, egregiously long waiting times and rudeness from the staff.  The list goes on and on.  

When plaintiff’s are sent alone to a defense exam it stands to reason that they may be nervous or intimidated by the process making it more difficult to remember the “rules” and to advocate against a trained professional and the staff.  

Why You Should Get IME Coverage

This is where a trained exam escort comes into play. IME coverage attorneys know the rules, they’ve seen the games sometimes played and they know how to respond. IME escorts know that a plaintiff is entitled to be examined in the presence of his or her attorney or legal representative. They know that your client is entitled to an interpreter.

More importantly, a trained IME escort knows when it is time to call your office and let you know that something isn’t right with an exam or a client.  

By having your “eyes and ears” at an exam, you will be better prepared should your case proceed to trial and you will be armed with ammunition against the defendant insurer because you will know exactly what transpired at the evaluation. 

While not all examining doctors are bad apples, there are a few out there who really bend the rules, like those who perform thousands of exams a year on behalf of defendant insurers, the cost of an IME escort is far outweighed by the benefits from protecting your clients interests.   

You can easily avoid 

  • Lies about the length of the exam. It is well known in the industry that doctors may describe a 20 - 30 minute examination of the plaintiff when the reality is that most IMEs take only minutes. (Come on, we all know the story of a certain orthopedist in Queens who testified to a 20 minute exam when a video showed it only lasted 1 minute and 56 seconds!) 
  • Misstatements about findings that could not possibly have been made given the length or thoroughness of the defense exam. 
  • Allegations that your client was uncooperative or failed to appear for an exam. 
  • Damaging statements made by plaintiffs to so-called “independent” examiners.  

What are our IME escorts saying about experiences they’ve had at defense exams when representing plaintiffs? 

“I was assigned an exam in Queens and arrived 20 minutes early to meet and speak to the plaintiff who was about to be examined. I found the plaintiff speaking to an interpreter, who had been retained by the service that was providing the exam. Because I speak Spanish I understood enough of the conversation to know that the interpreter was telling the client that he was a liar, that his injuries weren’t bad and that he was only out for money. I was shocked! I immediately called the attorney of record and canceled the exam.”

“Last time I went with a plaintiff to an exam, other patients told me they had been waiting hours. I was able to speak to the office manager and get the client in for his exam faster than if we had just sat and waited.”

“I can’t tell you how many times I have been at exams that last under 5 minutes. This is great information to have when it comes to settlement time.”

Make the most of the opportunity provided by the defense scheduling an IME. Let our IME coverage attorneys escort your clients to their exam and be sure that your clients are fully and property protected during this process which may directly impact your bottom line.  

Covid Considerations and Defense Exams:

Although exams have been taking place, we have heard of doctors offices where there is a reluctance to have an escort, an interpreter, a nurse, patient and doctor in a small office at one time. This does not change your clients’ right to have an escort present at exam. Our escorts have been instructed to wear masks and practice social distancing to the extent possible. 

In light of the current climate, we urge our clients to provide us with instructions and reachable contact information for instances when restrictions by a physician may impede the plaintiff from having the protection to which he or she is entitled.  

Click here to learn more about our IME coverage services and how to request an escort for your client here.

Tags: Services, IME

ZR Per Diem

Written by ZR Per Diem