Independent medical evaluations are not neutral and claimants should be wary when their insurance company offers to provide them with an examination. These evaluations are often used to counter the tests and medical opinions completed by the individual’s personal physician and can cast doubt over the veracity, severity, and overall impact of the individual’s injuries.
Independent Medical Evaluations are Performed by the Defense, for the Defense
Independent medical evaluations are paid for by the defense and plaintiffs should never view them as an opportunity to receive a “free” medical exam. Because the defense is paying for the examination, there is a natural propensity for the examiner to lean towards protecting them. During the exam, the physician will ask questions regarding the individual’s medical history and health status. This is often an attempt to establish that previous injuries or illnesses are the cause of the individual’s current health issues and not the accident itself.
Physicians conducting the evaluation are not given carte blanche to discuss unrelated illnesses or injuries. They must limit their examination and evaluation to issues that relate to the site of the injury or those that could be contributing causes. In cases where multiple types of injuries are suffered, this may require multiple evaluations from specialists, i.e. neurologists, physical therapists, orthopedic surgeons, etc.
Review of the Evaluation
Both sides have the right to review the results of the independent medical evaluation. This includes a complete copy of the report as well as the results of any tests that were administered during the examination. As with all medical examinations, this information can be disputed and countered with secondary opinions from the individual’s private physician.
Individuals should plan to meet with their personal injury attorney in Chicago prior to an independent medical examination. The attorney can help plan and prepare for the appointment and discuss the best ways to protect the individual’s rights during the exam. For instance, by discussing that the person is not required to disclose privileged communications with the lawyer, legal strategy, status of settlement negotiations, depositions, or the findings and results of examinations performed by the individual’s private physician.
In court, the findings of all medical evaluations can be considered and compared. If the court finds that the injuries are not related to the accident, then the claim can be denied.