Car accidents can be serious, expensive incidents, especially when injuries are involved. Most people can incur significant financial hardship if they do not receive compensation for the cost of their medical treatments. Regardless of how your injury could affect your finances, you should not have to pay for an injury that wasn’t your fault. Our personal injury attorneys in Houston, TX can help you gather the evidence you need to support your personal injury case.
Will I Need a Doctor to Confirm My Personal Injury?
In order to hold an insurance company or another driver legally responsible for providing you with compensation for medical expenses, you will need to have proof of your injuries. Whether you are filing a claim according to the terms of a policy you hold or seeking compensation from the other driver’s insurance company, you may be required to present evidence that the injuries you sustained require treatment.
Acceptable evidence can include medical bills, test results, and notes from the providers who attended to you. In most cases, the evidence can come from your physicians and/or the ER you chose to attend after the accident. In some cases, the insurance company may request that you undergo an independent medical exam (IME.) You should understand that an independent medical exam is rarely required and could jeopardize your case.
The Truth About Independent Medical Exams
What Is an Independent Medical Exam?
An IME is an exam performed by a doctor who is certified to give an unbiased opinion on the condition of a patient for the purpose of avoiding insurance fraud. By the time the insurance company requests an IME, the claimant has usually been assessed and treated by his or her own doctor. Therefore, the most common purpose of the IME is to cast doubt on the validity of the claimant’s case.
Insurance companies request IMEs with the hope that the results will indicate that either the claimant’s injuries are not as serious as he or she states or that they did not result from the accident. Often, insurance companies use the results of the IME to argue that the claimant had a preexisting medical condition. If you undergo an IME and the results contradict the damages listed on your claim, the insurance company can potentially avoid an expensive payout.
Are Independent Medical Exams Really Unbiased?
While there is a certification process for physicians who want to perform IMEs as unbiased experts, their assessments are not always impartial in practice. Often, business relationships exist between the insurance companies and the physicians, incentivizing the physicians to downplay the claimants’ injuries. In general, it is best to avoid undergoing an IME if possible.
Do I Have the Right to Refuse an IME?
Most personal injury claims in Texas do not necessitate an IME. The most common situation in which a claimant is required to submit to an IME is if he or she is using his or her own insurance for compensation. In that case, the policy terms may state that the insurance company is allowed to require an IME as part of their investigation into a claim.
Texas is an at-fault state, meaning that the driver who caused the accident is responsible for covering the cost to treat any injuries. Therefore, if your accident was caused by the other driver, you would likely seek compensation from his or her insurance company rather than your own. Since you did not take out the other driver’s policy or sign off on the terms, his or her insurance company will probably not be able to require an IME.
When Would I Need to Submit to an IME?
In Texas, an insurance company can require you to take an IME if there is serious doubt over the validity of your injuries. However, a judge would need to order you to take one. Unless you are complying with the terms of your own insurance policy, there is usually no need to submit to an IME until one is ordered by a judge.
Reasons to use your own insurance policy to cover the medical expenses of treating a personal injury could include suffering a hit-and-run or incurring more expenses than your health insurance policy will initially cover. In either of those situations, you may need to rely on your personal injury protection (PIP), which is sometimes included in auto insurance. PIP is intended to cover injuries regardless of who was at fault for the accident.
Personal Injury Attorneys Can Provide Advice on Taking an IME
If the insurance company that is responsible for paying for your damages has requested that you take an IME, you should speak with a personal injury attorney before moving forward. In rare cases involving overwhelming evidence of the injuries in question, taking an IME can work to the claimant’s advantage. Your attorney can help determine whether or not you have the right to refuse the IME and if taking it would harm or strengthen your case.
If you would like to avoid an IME but the insurance company tells you it is a requirement, your lawyer may be able to provide grounds for you to refuse. In past cases, lawyers have successfully argued that taking the IME would constitute an undue financial hardship for the claimant, requiring him or her to miss work or travel an unreasonable distance.
How Can I Compile Evidence That Will Help My Case?
While an independent medical exam will most likely harm your chances of recovering compensation for your injuries, many other types of evidence can strengthen your case. Going to the emergency room after the accident is the first step you can take to create a record of your injuries. There, any treatments you receive and the results of the tests you undergo will be noted, creating a body of information that can attest to the seriousness of your injuries.
When you work with an attorney to submit your claim, he or she can advise you on how to request your medical records. In addition to medical records, you will need to submit proof that the other driver caused the crash. If you are pursuing lost wages, you will need to show that you missed work. When seeking compensation in a personal injury case, the aim of submitting evidence is to support the following statements:
- Another party caused the accident
- You suffered damages
- There was a direct causal link between the accident and your injuries
Will I Need an Expert Witness to Testify on My Behalf?
Some complex personal injury cases require a physician to testify as an expert witness. However, these cases usually involve medical malpractice. For most cases involving car crashes, the claimant’s medical records are sufficient. Your lawyer can advise you on whether or not you need to bring in an expert witness to support your statements.
Get Legal Representation in Houston, TX
When you go up against a big insurance company with grounds for a personal injury claim, you want to be sure that your case is well supported with evidence. Insurance companies often use manipulative tactics, such as requesting medical exams that are far from unbiased. Having a lawyer on your side can help you act according to your best interests when documenting your injuries. To speak with our personal injury attorneys in Houston, TX, contact Houston Injury Lawyers PLLC.