What Is An Independent Medical Examination And Why Would An Insurer Request It?

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New York holding medical records, misdiagnosing patient

Whether you have been injured in a car accident, a workplace accident, or an accident on someone else’s property, if you plan to pursue compensation through an insurance claim, the insurance company might request that you undergo an independent medical examination as part of the claims process.

Below, we’ll discuss what an independent medical examination is, why an insurer might request that you receive this examination, and what you can do to prepare for it. If you have questions about your rights and obligations regarding independent medical examinations or want to discuss your injury case with us, contact the dedicated New York personal injury attorneys at Finz & Finz, P.C. today.

What Is An Independent Medical Examination?

When you file a personal injury claim with an insurance company, you are seeking “damages” from them. Damages are essentially monetary compensation for financial and non-financial losses you suffered as a result of an accident. During the claims process, the insurance company might request that you undergo an independent medical examination.

Oftentimes, when someone has just been injured, the first medical professional they turn to is their own personal doctor, or at least a doctor of their choosing. When you file a claim, and the insurance company is facing the possibility of having to cover your medical expenses, they may naturally wish to get a second opinion by conducting their own independent medical examination.

This exam will usually be conducted by a physician with a strong knowledge of the type of injury you sustained. The doctor will usually be an MD or an OD and will probably have experience conducting independent medical examinations.

Why Do Insurance Companies Request Independent Medical Examinations?

While insurance companies call them “independent medical examinations” the truth is that there is rarely anything “independent” about these exams. As you go through the claims process, it is important to remember that insurance companies are for-profit entities. Unfortunately, their loyalty is not to their policyholders but to their shareholders.

When you file a claim, the insurance company will employ various tactics to try and reduce or even deny your claim. One of these tactics is an independent medical examination. When the insurance company requests this examination, their goal is to find a reason to reduce or deny your claim.

In many cases, the insurance company will have a pre-existing relationship with the doctor who conducts your “independent” exam. It is also not uncommon for these physicians to draft a report that downplays your injuries or works against you in some other way.

For instance, if the exam uncovers a pre-existing medical condition, the insurance company could use that to argue that your present medical issues were not directly caused by the accident. Whatever your specific injury might be, the physician will likely try to find support for an alternative diagnosis that ultimately works against you and your claim.

If the independent medical examination report tells a different story than your personal doctor’s, the insurance company could ultimately use this to lower your claim or even deny it. Neither the insurance company nor the “independent” doctor is concerned with your wellbeing. The insurance company’s chief concern is keeping its shareholders happy and minimizing payouts.

What Are My Rights In An Independent Medical Examination?

The insurance company may have a right to request an independent medical examination, but you have rights too, and you should consult with a personal injury attorney to ensure that your rights are protected during the examination.

You Can Bring Your Attorney

You are allowed to bring your attorney along with you to the examination. Having both sides present can help ensure that the exam is conducted fairly. Your personal injury attorney will be familiar with the rules that govern insurance companies and independent medical examinations and can ensure that the exam is performed in a way that does not violate your rights.

You Can Record the Exam

You and your attorney can also record the exam. Recording the exam is another way to ensure that the exam is performed fairly and that the physician thoroughly evaluates your injuries so that they can make an accurate diagnosis. If you don’t record the examination and the physician fails to inspect your injuries properly or makes an inaccurate diagnosis, you won’t have any way to prove that the exam was conducted improperly.

You Might Not be Obligated to Attend the Exam

In general, an insurance company does have the right to request an independent medical examination that is specifically related to the injuries you are claiming compensation for. They do not have the right to evaluate you for other injuries or medical conditions. Before agreeing to undergo an independent medical examination, you should always consult with an experienced personal injury attorney. Insurance companies sometimes use these exams to harass or gaslight injured individuals, and your attorney can help ensure that you are not subjected to any examination you do not need.

Contact Finz & Finz, P.C. Today

If you have filed an injury claim after an accident and the insurance company has requested an independent medical examination, contact the accident attorneys at Finz & Finz, P.C. on Long Island right away. Our attorneys are very familiar with the tactics insurance companies use to weasel out of paying you the full and fair compensation you need and deserve after an accident. We know how to subvert those tactics and will aggressively pursue the money you are entitled to.

Our attorneys have what it takes to thoroughly investigate the accident that caused your injuries, gather evidence to support your claim, document and calculate damages you are owed, and negotiate a settlement on your behalf. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation with one of our seasoned New York personal injury lawyers.