Today I accompanied a wreck of a man — a severely injured car wreck victim — to a so-called “independent” medical examination (“IME”). (You will see why I say “so called” soon enough.) The poor guy got t-boned a few years ago and ever since has suffered horrible pain emanating from his cervical and lumbar spine. He has had two surgeries, one on his neck and one on his lower back, not to mention countless rounds of physical therapy, epidural injections, trigger point injections, pain meds, and chiropractic treatment. Even so, he has been losing his war against the pain.
All of his many doctors have concluded that (1) he is badly injured; (2) the car accident caused his injuries (he was fine before then!); and (3) he is totally disabled.
Open and shut case, right? Wrong. The insurance company defending this case has a right, under New York personal injury law, to have the victim present to a so-called (there I go again!) “independent” medical examination (“IME”) by a doctor of their choice. The so-called “independent” doctor (paid by the insurance company) then renders an opinion whether the victim is injured, and if so what his injuries are, whether the car accident caused them, and whether he can work at all.
About a month ago I got the insurance company’s Notice of Independent (yea right) Medical Examination (“IME”). When I saw the name of the doctor the insurance company had picked, I knew right away what the good doctor would say about my client’s injuries. He is (in)famous in Central New York for giving the insurance company exactly what it wants, every single time, no matter how bad the injury. And that’s why he is the “go to” doc for the insurance companies’ so-called “independent” medical examinations (“IME’s).
Like most New York personal injury lawyers, I refuse to call these examinations “independent” medical examinations. Rather, we call them “insurance” medical examinations.
Anyway, this particular doctor will never find an injury of any significance (except perhaps if the patient has lost an arm or leg!). His examination report will be a cut-and-paste job from all his other reports, following this formula: (1) the victim was hardly hurt at all, just sprains or strains, (2) those injuries are totally resolved; (3) the victim may be exaggerating his injuries; (4) even if there is an injury, the accident did not cause it, but rather a pre-existing condition is causing the symptoms; and (5) the victim can work.
And that’s what he’ll say in Court, too.
The good doctor examined my client for only 9 minutes.
I don’t even need to see his report. I know exactly what it will say. It will contradict everything his treating doctors have said – yes, the doctors who have been repeatedly examining him over a period of many, many hours over the last few years – and will find that he is hardly injured at all, and that he may be faking, and if not, his symptoms are not caused by the car wreck but by pre-existing conditions.
One of the reasons I wanted to go to this IME (besides to show support for my client) was so I could time the exam (only 9 minutes!), see first-hand the testing the doc did (not much!), and more importantly, the tests he did not do (many!), so I can cross-examine the hell out of him at trial.
See ya at trial doc.
Email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org I’d love to hear from you!
Michael G. Bersani, Esq.
michaels-smolak.com Central NY Personal Injury Lawyers Michaels & Smolak, P.C.