Below we have prepared a comprehensive checklist to help you prepare for an independent medical examination (IME).
1. Be appropriately Cleaned, Groomed, and Dressed.
Don’t dress in clothes that would indicate to the doctor that you have been engaging in activities that don’t match your injury (e.g., athletic shorts).
2. Arrive at least 30 minutes early.
This is necessary to complete paperwork. Don’t show up right on time, as that will likely prolong the appointment which may upset the doctor.
3. Be familiar with Your Medical History
Your medical records have already been provided to the IME doctor.
4. BE 100% HONEST – DON’T EXAGGERATE YOUR INJURIES
The truth about your injuries will come to light by looking at your medical history and diagnostic testing. Concealing prior injuries or exaggerating current ones will only hurt your case because once the truth is found, your credibility on how injured you are is damaged.
5. Don’t be Afraid to Say something Doesn’t Hurt or Past Treatments have Provided Temporary Relief
Saying so will only strengthen your credibility. If every test the doctor performs hurts, the doctor will be suspicious you are exaggerating your injuries. Also, saying that past treatments have provided some relief, even if only temporary, validates the existence of an injury.
6. Be ready to give an Accurate Accounting of what caused your injury
Note: What you tell the IME doctor about how your injury happened MUST be consistent with your discovery answers, deposition, and medical records. Any inconsistency will impair your credibility.
7. Emphasize the Positives in your case
Note: For example, if you had a long and productive work history before your injury, emphasize that to the IME doctor.
8. Don’t React Negatively or Positively to the Length of the Exam
Note: The length of an IME is not determinative of how well you presented. Sometimes an IME takes only a matter of minutes. A lengthy exam does not necessarily mean the doctor is writing a good report. It could just mean the doctor is searching for ways to find conclusions that will serve the purpose for which he has been hired, i.e., to lower the value of your case with a bad report.
9. How to address Prior Injuries with your IME doctor
Specifically Point Out:
- New and Different injury symptoms that did not previously exist.
- Increased Pain and Limitation that did not previously exist
- Whether intermittent pain that existed before your current injury turned into constant pain.
This is the information the doctor must know to determine the degree of aggravation or exacerbation the current injury caused to your prior injury
10. Be aware of the Possibility the IME Doctor has Video Surveillance of You
The worst thing that can happen is for you to claim an inability to perform some activity the IME doctor has video of you doing. For example, don’t claim not to be able to bend down if just the other day you were planting flowers at your house or lifting heavy items from the bottom of a shopping cart. Private investigators record things like this all the time. It is NOT going to hurt your case to tell the doctor what you can do, especially if you tell him you have “good days and bad days.” Just because you engage in activities does not mean you are not hurt and don’t require treatment. Just be honest.
11. Conduct yourself appropriately at All Times
BE AWARE – you are not only being examined while in the room. You are being watched as you Enter and Exit the building and all times in between. For example, IME doctors will write in their reports that you acted one way during the examination and acted another way as you were in the waiting room or exiting the building. These differences could be physical (e.g., limping vs. no limp; hunched over vs. standing straight) or emotional (depressed vs. happy). It is critical that at all times, you are honest and consistent in your demeanor.
12. Be Honest in Rating Your Pain Level
You will likely be asked to rate your pain from 1-10, with 10 being the worst pain imaginable. Never say 10, because a 10 indicates an unretractable pain of excruciating agony. If you say this, the doctor will think you are unbelievable. Keep in mind, IME doctors have had years of training and seen thousands of patients. They know what pain looks like, where to look for it, and what level of pain certain injuries normally cause. Also, remember that you are not required to have “severe” pain in order to be injured or receive treatment. Just be honest.
13. State Your Goal is to Return to Full Health
Make sure the doctor knows that your ultimate goal is your health and that you want to return yourself to your prior level of functioning, return to work, and become pain free.
14. Be Aware of Your Physical and Verbal Behavior
There is no need to grimace or jump at every part of the clinical examination. In fact, doing so makes your complaints less credible to the doctor. Although you may think that showing constant signs of pain will only help communicate your injuries to the doctor, in reality, the opposite happens. Constant grimacing, flinching, etc. will only cause the doctor to become more skeptical of your complaints.
15. Be Brief but Thorough with your Answers and do not Interrupt the Doctor
The doctor is a busy person who must keep a schedule. The doctor will be appreciative, and thus more likely to write a favorable report, if you are respectful of his time. Like your deposition, keep your answers concise and on point. Only elaborate if asked to. For example, the doctor may ask you to give an example of how your injury has affected your life. Feel free to tell him you can’t play with your children like you used to and in what ways. Don’t, however, give the doctor a complete rundown of your family, such as the names and ages of all your children, unless the doctor initiates that topic.
16. Always be Courteous and Polite to the IME doctor
Nothing good will be gained by arguing or being combative with the doctor.
17. Don’t talk about Why you Initiated your Lawsuit
If the doctor asks you why you are in a lawsuit, simply tell him that you had to hire an attorney to secure rights you were not receiving. Don’t go into the history of your lawsuit or your relationship with other parties in the case.
18. Pain Medications
Unless asked, do not alert the doctor of how much pain medication you have been taking. Advising the doctor of this may lead him to believe you are abusing your medication. Also, never ask an IME doctor for pain medication. Because there is no physician-patient relationship, IME doctors cannot prescribe you medication.
19. Asking the IME Doctor’s Opinion
You can ask the doctor’s opinion at the end of the examination. The doctor may or may not give it. If he does not give an opinion at that time, an opinion will later be given in a full report. So don’t make anything of it if you do not get an opinion at the end of your examination or do not get an opinion that you agree with.