– In a personal injury
or car accident case, one of the insurance companies,
or responsible defendants, may be able to have
their doctor examine you. In this video I’m going to
talk about how the insurance company having a doctor
examine you can result in you receiving less
money for your settlement. JZ helps a Florida injury law firm. I’m Personal Injury
Attorney Justin Ziegler. When an insurance company
or a responsible defendant who caused your accident
hires a doctor to examine you, it’s called an independent
medical examination, also known as an IME. But the reality is despite the name, it’s truly not independent. The insurance company, who
you’re generally at odds with, or the responsible party
who caused your accident, who you’re going up against,
is paying the doctor to examine you. Now in Florida for example,
your own car insurance company has the right to hire a
doctor to examine you. Keep in mind, your insurance
company is paying the doctor. Now, the doctor has to be
honest, but in most cases, there is a range where the
doctor can still be honest, and give a certain opinion. So let’s say the range is here. For example, if you have a
fracture, one doctor can say that the fracture is not that bad, yet another doctor can
look at the same fracture and say the fracture is worse. The worse you’re injured, all
things equal, the more money you receive in your personal injury claim. In Florida, for example, if
you are making what’s called a PIP claim which essentially
after most car accident cases you have PIP insurance which
is going to pay your medical bills up to a certain amount
of money, usually $10,000. Your own auto insurance
company has the right to hire a doctor to examine you. Their goal should be to
give you a fair exam, but if the doctor says that your
treatment is not related to the accident or it’s not
reasonable, they can say that you do not need more
treatment, which then you would lose your PIP benefits. You have the right to sue
your insurance company to try to receive those PIP
benefits, but understand that your own doctor is being paid
by the insurance company. When you go to the doctor’s
office, they’re generally gonna give you a
questionnaire to fill out. You gotta be careful because
this questionnaire can later be used against you. So if you fail to say for
example that you have back pain on the questionnaire, and later
on you complain of back pain the insurance company
may use this against you, saying that you truly did not
have back pain because you failed to put it on the
questionnaire and if you really had it, you would’ve written
it on the questionnaire. Also, if the driver who hit
you does not have enough bodily injury insurance which
you would pay for your pain and suffering and out
of pocket medical bills, and other lost wages, your
uninsured motorist insurer through your uninsured
motorist insurance would pay for these damages. The uninsured motorist insurer
also has the right in Florida for example, to hire a
doctor to examine you. Again that doctor is being
paid by the insurance company. Their goal is so long as they’re
fair, is to put the light of your injuries in the
light most favorable to the insurance company. Insurance companies typically
use conservative doctors who minimize your injuries, I’m
not saying they’re dishonest at all, but again your
injuries have a certain range. For example, one doctor
can say your injury is a 3% impairment rating,
another doctor can say 5%, and they’re both telling the truth. But your uninsured motorist
insurance company has the right to examine you, that’s
pursuant to the policy. Now oftentimes in reality
at least before a lawsuit, it doesn’t happen, they don’t
examine you which is good news it’s one less examine to
attend, one less questionnaire to fill out, et cetera. Going back to personal injury
protection claims, the worst your insurer is, from my past
experience, the higher chance they’re gonna send you to their doctor, a doctor that they hire to examine you. This is because they’re
more likely to wanna cut off your PIP benefits, which
would prevent PIP from paying your medical bills. The better insurers generally
for the most part, the ones that you see on TV nationally,
there’s a less likelyhood that they’re going to send
you to their doctor to try to cut off your PIP benefits Many of these doctors who
examine you are friendly, but do not mistake a friendly
doctor who is very nice to you during the examine as
one who’s gonna give you a favorable report. The main purpose of these
exams, these independent medical exams, are three-fold. One, the doctor’s gonna ask
you some facts about how the incident happened. In a perfect world, if the
insurance company wants to reduce the amount that they pay you,
their goal is that the doctor says that the accident
did not cause your injury, that your injuries are not
that bad, that your injuries are not permanent, that’s
very important in Florida because in most car accidents,
but not all, you need a permanent injury to even
get one penny for either past pain and suffering or
future pain and suffering. And then the insurance company
would like to hear that you’re not gonna need any
more future medical treatment. These independent medical
exams are very important. They’re particularly important
in cases where your injury is soft tissue where you
complain of generalized pain knee pain, shoulder pain,
neck pain, back pain, or even if you have a
herniated disc, a lot of times one doctor usually the insurance
company doctor is going to say your herniated disc
is not a permanent injury it’s not related to the
accident and the pain that it’s generating if any should not be that bad. Hopefully your doctor so
long as he’s honest, relates your herniated disc for
example, or your pain to the accident. Finding the right doctor is
very very important to your personal injury case. In a perfect world, you
could hop on the Internet, choose any doctor at random
and everything would be equal. The reality is there are
doctors who do not like getting involved in personal injury
clients and if you randomly called doctors through the
Internet or Yellow Pages or however you find them,
you’re gonna see that a lot of doctors are going to ask,
how did the accident happen or their assistants are gonna ask. Soon as you say that the
accident was a result of a slip and fall, car accident,
a lot of doctors are not going to wanna treat you. They just do not wanna be
involved in personal injury claims a lot of doctors are also very
conservative and are gonna minimize your injuries
because they don’t wanna take either the time to write a
report for you that’s friendly and helpful to you or they
just don’t wanna get involved. I’m going to talk about an
actual case where a motorcycle rider was hit by a truck
driver, the truck driver made a left hand turn and cut off
the motorcyclist and hit him. And the motorcyclist ultimately
had a fracture beneath the kneecap and the case
settled for $445,000. He had surgery to that
fracture, which is known as a Tibial Plateau Fracture,
the tibia’s the larger of the two bones in the lower
leg and hardware was put in. He also had a fracture to his
finger and surgery on that. And then the metal hardware was removed. But the insurance adjuster
asked me if I would allow my client to submit to an
independent medical examination or INE. The good news is, in a claim
against someone else who caused your injury a
personal injury claim, the insurance company their
insurance company or them, are not entitled to an independent
medical exam before you file a lawsuit, if you file a lawsuit, they are entitled to it. What I did in this case, is I
happened to know a orthopedic surgeon, I had him review
my client’s medical records because he’s generally
conservative and hired by many insurance companies I wanted
to see what he would say figuring that the insurance
company in this particular case would likely send the file
to a similar doctor who was very conservative. My doctor said that my client
may not have a permanent injury and may have very little
if any permanent impairment. So I chose to decline the
opportunity to have their independent medical examination
of my client and again the case settled for $445,000. But the moral of that story
is, you do not need to let the careless drivers or
careless party if you slip and fall or are otherwise
injured somewhere else. You don’t need to let their
doctor, them hire a doctor and examine you. In another case, a shopper
claimed that he slipped and fell on a supermarket
floor, he claimed that there was a substance on the floor
that caused the fall and the supermarkets adjust
their, who initially handle the case, denied liability
ultimately saying that he felt the supermarket or
she felt the supermarket did nothing wrong, they
were kind enough to send us the video as you can see right here. But we were forced essentially
to file a lawsuit so we sued and the insurance company for
the supermarket hired a doctor to examine my client. Now my client’s injury
that he claimed was that a preexisting injury, an injury
that existed before the fall was worsened due to the fall. He tore his Achilles tendon
before the fall and we claimed that the fall caused the
need for two skin grafts to his lower leg and he had
some other injuries as well. So the insurance company sent
the injured shopper to their doctor and as you can imagine,
their doctor basically did not relate any of the
injuries to the accident. On one of the injuries he said
that he can’t comment on it, that a neurologist should
look at it and comment on it, but this is just very very
routine in many cases. If it’s a fracture that
you’re claiming the odds are the other insurance company
doctor’s gonna have no problem relating the fracture to the
accident, but once you start dealing with tears and
infections and generalized pain, you’re gonna have a much
tougher time finding doctors that the insurance company
hires to say that those are related to the accident. The doctor also said that he
reviewed the video of the fall and my client’s foot really
didn’t even strike the floor, we disagreed with them, I
felt that the video showed my client’s foot striking the
floor which worsened again the previous injury that he had. A couple other pointers if
you go to an IME exam, you are entitled to have a court
reporter’s stenographer there to record it so that
there’s no misunderstandings about what you said, keep
in mind you’re gonna tell the doctor whatever
symptoms that you have, he’s going to record them. If you have a stenographer
there to take notes essentially, then that will become the
most thorough record of what you said, you can also
bring a video camera or bring someone with you
that has a video camera that can video the exam once
again to just show the length of the exam, to show what the
doctor examined, just to make sure that everything is accurate and fair. If you’re not fluent in English,
you have the right to also bring an interpreter with you. You can pay for that sometimes
possibly your own insurance company would pay for the
cost of an interpreter. Again you wanna make sure
everything is recorded accurately. You would hate to tell the
doctor something in Spanish and there’s a chance that the
doctor doesn’t write down, the complaint doesn’t
understand it or doesn’t hear it or his staff misinterprets it to him. So spend the money if you’d
like and hire an interpreter if you’re not 100% fluent in English. That that was in the details,
and the details are very very important in your case. I hope you enjoyed this video
please comment and let me know if there’s any other
aspects or important things that I didn’t talk about in
an independent medical exam and how it effects a personal injury case. My name is Attorney Justin
Ziegler, my office is in Miami, I serve Florida. Please subscribe to my
channel, please like the video. Have a beautiful day. (techno music)