Even where a defendant's negligence may be clear, litigants rarely agree on the nature, extent or cause of a plaintiff's personal injuries.
Nor do the doctors. In serious personal injury cases, each side will call one or more medical experts to provide their professional opinions on the plaintiff's condition, the true cause of her injuries, the reasonableness of medical treatment, and the nature and extent of physical impairment.
Ultimately, a jury without any medical training whatsoever will have to weigh the complex and conflicting testimony of licensed physicians to determine who will win this contentious "battle of the experts." Since winning this contest is essential to winning the case as a whole, the battle of the medical experts starts long before the trial itself. Although accident victims often call their own treating physicians to the stand, defendants and their insurance companies hire their own doctors to examine those seeking to recover for serious and permanent physical injuries.
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.