What is an independent medical examination (IME)?
In litigation cases relating to personal injury matters, defendants (usually represented by an insurance company lawyer) will often request that the injured person submit to one or more independent medical examinations (IME). While the term used is independent medical examination or IME, it really is a defence medical examination or DME. In my experience, there is rarely anything independent about the examination as the health care provider completing the examination is hired by and paid for by the insurance company representing the defendant.
While an independent medical examination can be an integral part of the litigation process, it is important that as a plaintiff in an Ottawa injury case that you meet with your injury lawyer to review the purpose of the medical examination and prepare for the examination. You will be asked to meet with a health care provider, usually a medical expert of some sorts, and asked to answer questions and usually subject yourself to medical tests and physical examination.
The purpose of an independent medical examination is to allow the defendant an opportunity to assess your injuries and disabilities and to provide an objective report about your injuries using an objective third party medical expert. Defendants are entitled to seek an independent medical examination pursuant to the Rules of the Court, called the Rules of Civil Procedure. In many cases, an injured person may be asked to submit to more than one independent medical examination. The examination can relate to physical and/or psychological injuries claimed.
After the examination, the expert conducting the examination must produce a written report outlining their opinions, conclusions and findings, and the defendant must provide the injured party with a copy of the report.
With defence medical examinations, the injured person does not form a patient doctor relationship in the traditional sense as the interaction is for the sole purpose of completing the assessment and producing a report.
What will your Ottawa injury lawyer do to protect your rights when an independent medical examinations are requested?
- Your lawyer will explain what an IME is and the process involved in going to an IME.
- Your lawyer will ensure the doctor who will be conducting the examination is duly qualified as an expert.
- Your lawyer will review and assess the qualifications of the proposed expert.
- Your lawyer may complete some legal research to determine if the proposed expert has ever testified in Court and what the outcome of that evidence was.
- Your lawyer will ask for a copy of the expert’s background and experience ( a CV) in advance of the examination.
- Your lawyer may arrange for transportation to the IME.
- Your lawyer will ensure that your full medical files have been provided to the defendant in advance of the examination so that the expert being hired to complete the examination has the full medical history.
- If you have special needs, your lawyer will ensure that those needs are met during the examination. Perhaps you need regular breaks, special transportation, time to take medication, have medical restrictions on time or may need someone to attend the IME with you.
In all cases, you should be honest with the expert examining you. In many cases, the result of the examination will not be favourable to your case. This is to be expected since, as indicated, the expert being retained is hired by and paid for by the insurance company representing the defendant. In the end, your own medical experts can review the defendant’s expert reports and provide their own analysis and provide their own opinions. They can also provide their opinions on the IME report.
The litigation process is very complicated and there are countless steps along the way to a trial. An experienced personal injury lawyer can help you successfully navigate through the process.
Our lawyers provide free consultations and work on a no fee unless you win basis. Call us for a free consultation at 613-315-4878.
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