Up Close & Personal Injury
PATIENT: The car in front of me completely stopped and I stopped right after that, but the woman behind us did not and plowed into the back of me.
MICHAEL FRANCHETTI: Where was your first medical attention.
PATIENT: Our family doctor, Dr. Rastogi.
MICHAEL FRANCHETTI: What areas were injured.
PATIENT: It was my neck and my lower back.
MICHAEL FRANCHETTI: Did he take any x-rays.
PATIENT: Did a few to see if there was any bruising. He did prescribe me a pain reliever.
MICHAEL FRANCHETTI: What were the medications you recall.
MICHAEL FRANCHETTI: Ibuprofen and he gave you some Flexeril as well. Did you have any physical therapy?
MICHAEL FRANCHETTI: Are you still having any residual problems? Does this patient who still has these pain or complaints, do they need any more evaluation and/or treatment.
PATIENT: Most definitely, when I turn my neck to the right, it is mostly still very painful and my lower back is still very irritated.
MICHAEL FRANCHETTI: What usually brings on the neck pain.
PATIENT: I work at a computer sitting all the day sitting out and turning my neck starring at the computer irritates my neck and back.
MICHAEL FRANCHETTI: What kind work you do.
PATIENT: I am title processor.
MICHAEL FRANCHETTI: Did u miss any work because of this injury.
PATIENT: No, I did not.
MICHAEL FRANCHETTI: Any sports or hobbies or leisure activities that are limited or effected by these injuries right now.
PATIENT: Usually when I go out with my friends and dance it just becomes so irritated that I do not really want to do any more. It is hard for me.
MICHAEL FRANCHETTI: Your dancing is limited and painful.
PATIENT: Very much sure.
MICHAEL FRANCHETTI: Also an important question, in the past have you ever had any injuries or symptoms to your neck or back. I am trying to find out if some of her complaints are due to this injury or possibly a previous injury.
MICHAEL FRANCHETTI: I would like to take a look at you and go through the examination, okay.
Preparing for the IME
If you are a plaintiff in a personal injury lawsuit or in a worker's compensation claim, you may well expect your opponent or his insurance carrier to test the legitimacy of your claims in an independent medical examination. This is particularly true if you are claiming to have sustained permanent injuries from the accident or incident at issue.
But the IME is an examination unlike any you have previously experienced. This time, the doctor's job isn't to treat your injuries or otherwise help you. The IME doctor has been hired, in effect, to hurt your case by identifying inconsistencies and other problems which may be a basis for defending against your claims. For this reason, it is essential that you know what to expect in the IME and that you prepare for your role in this critical part of all serious personal injury cases.
Your Medical History
Like most other encounters with a new doctor, the physician will ask you a number of questions about the accident, the onset of various symptoms, your medical treatment, and present complaints and limitations. But, as in all legal proceedings, anything you say -- or, forget to say -- may be used against you if and when the IME doctor takes the stand as a witness for the defense. So, before you arrive at the IME, come prepared to discuss a range of topics, including:
- Prior social and recreational activities
- Events on the day of the accident and the "mechanism" of injury
- Each and every injury or symptom you have experienced as a result of the accident
- Your treatment after the accident, providing some chronological detail on who you saw, when and why
- The extent to which your condition improved, deteriorated or stabilized at various intervals following the accident
- Prior and subsequent accidents, injuries, symptoms or ailments
- Physical limitations following the accident and the manner in which it affects your daily living activities, sports and recreational activities
- The impact of these symptoms upon your work activities, as well as the nature of the work requiredHow activities of daily living and recreational activities are affected
- Temporary restrictions imposed by doctors
- Functional capacity evaluations - permanent restrictions imposed by doctors;
- Physical exertion category of work claimant is capable of doing with restrictions
- Transferability of skills from work done prior to injury
- Time lost from work, with specific dates
- Work history after accident
- How injuries have affected ability to do basic work activities
- Future treatment expected.
Rather than rely upon your faulty memory of these details, preparing to answer these questions may help to avoid inconsistencies or errors that cast doubt upon your case.