In personal injury litigation, the defense has the right to examine the injured plaintiff by a physician, psychologist, or other appropriate specialist. The examiner’s report is then exchanged in the ordinary course of discovery. The abbreviation “IME” stands for “independent medical examination”, and is typically used by defendants to denote such an examination.
These examinations are neither independent nor impartial. The physician or other examiner has been hired by the defense for purposes of litigation, and many of these physicians’ practices consist of little more than performing these examinations and preparing reports on behalf of defendants and their true partner in economic interest, their insurance companies.
At the Jacob Fuchsberg Law Firm, we advise our clients that one of the purposes of the defense physical is to identify any plaintiffs who may not be telling the entire truth regarding their injuries. We also advise our clients that the physicians performing these examinations are keenly attuned to any non-physiologic responses by plaintiffs and that their goal is to identify any plaintiffs who might exaggerate their symptoms or in the extreme case, might be malingering. Such a finding by the defense physician, if credited by a jury, would greatly enhance the defendant’s case.
To avoid such an outcome, we instruct our clients that the history they provide to the defendant’s doctors and their responses during the physical or psychological examinations must be entirely honest and accurate. We instruct our clients not to exaggerate any of their injuries or symptoms, but also to be fair to themselves and not to minimize them either. Moreover, we send a representative of the firm to every defense physical in a personal injury case, to properly defend the exam. Complete honesty and integrity is the only way to “beat an IME”.