How to Choose a Trustworthy Car Accident Clinic

Lou Pendas

Legally reviewed by Lou Pendas on September 2, 2022 Lou Pendas is a member of the 1-800-Injured network.

After a car accident, there are many steps victims must take to move forward with their lives without chronic pain and without suffering the financial impacts of someone else’s negligence. Taking care of one’s health is the absolute top priority. To do that, it’s important to understand the role your medical care plays in your insurance claim process.

After suffering injuries from a car accident, it’s common for the at-fault driver’s insurance company to require the claimant to undergo a medical examination. These exams are known in the industry as independent medical examinations — or IMEs. 

But don’t let the name fool you. Insurers have preferred doctors to perform IMEs. In these situations, the doctor is typically biased in favor of the insurer. It’s unfortunate and frustrating, we know, but this is the reality of private insurance.

Fortunately, even if you can’t choose a clinic, there are steps you can follow to ensure you are not jeopardizing your case by falling into common traps laid by insurers and their doctors.

What Is an Independent Medical Examination After a Car Accident?

According to Florida Statutes §395.002(i), “Independent medical examination’ means an objective evaluation of the injured employee’s medical condition… performed by a physician or an expert medical advisor at the request of a party, a judge…, or the department to assist in the resolution of a dispute.”

The purpose of an IME is for the insurance company to have a doctor — who is chosen by and works with the insurance company, not the victim — evaluate the claimant’s injuries and give an opinion about:

  • The cause of the claimant’s injuries
  • The severity of the injuries
  • How long the claimant will likely require treatment
  • What, if any, future medical care the claimant likely needs

It’s important to understand that an IME is not a second opinion — it’s an insurance company’s way of trying to minimize or deny the claims of people they believe are exaggerating their injuries. Even if they are not exaggerating, the insurance company will use this as an opportunity to downplay the injuries in an attempt to pay less in a settlement.

The Importance of Reputable Medical Clinics for Accurate Independent Medical Exams

It’s important to choose a reputable, experienced car accident clinic to provide your medical care after an accident.

A good car accident clinic will:

  • Ensure that a doctor sees you within 24 to 48 hours of your accident, which is critical to document your injuries accurately
  • Conduct a thorough examination, often using diagnostic testing such as MRIs or CT scans
  • Develop an appropriate treatment plan for your unique set of injuries and symptoms
  • Help you understand your injuries and what to expect in the coming days, weeks, and months

A reputable car accident clinic will also have experience dealing with insurance companies and their adjusters. They will be able to protect your interests and ensure that you are getting the treatment you need without being taken advantage of.

Unfortunately, many car accident clinics do little more than take your insurance money and provide substandard care. Even a reputable clinic may be working on behalf of the insurer.

Choosing a Trustworthy Car Accident Clinic

A victim’s ability to choose the location for an IME varies from state to state. In some states, the insurer makes the selection. In others, the clinic may be randomly selected from an approved list.

If you have the option to choose your own, your best bet will be to work with an experienced car accident attorney with knowledge of the available clinics to find an unbiased doctor. This will give you an accurate assessment of your injuries.

If you don’t have the option to choose, your attorney can still work with you to ensure that you understand how to handle yourself through the investigation to avoid making statements that could be used against you.

How to Successfully Undergo an Independent Medical Examination

If you’ve been in a car accident, the best thing you can do is seek out experienced legal counsel to help guide you through the process and ensure that your interests are protected. An experienced attorney will know how to find a reputable clinic, work with insurance companies, and investigate your case to build the strongest possible claim.

When you are in your exam, it’s important to stay objective and calm. The insurer’s doctor will be looking for any opportunity to downplay your injuries or paint you as someone looking to take advantage of the system. It’s important to avoid getting defensive or emotional. Simply answer the questions truthfully and concisely. Never make statements that minimize your suffering, but make sure that you also stay truthful and consistent.

One element of an IME is for a doctor to determine whether or not you are accurate in your statements. They will likely ask you the same or similar questions repeatedly to gauge how consistent your answers are. Exaggerating your condition is just as harmful as downplaying it because the insurer will have justification for suggesting that your injuries are not as bad as you claim or that you are lying in hopes of a “payday.”

After the examination is over, it’s important to touch base with your attorney to ensure that the clinic has submitted its investigation and to find out what the next steps in your case are.

Connect with a Personal Injury Attorney to Get Support Throughout Your Car Accident Insurance Claim

1-800-Injured is a medical and legal referral service. We work with accident victims across the United States to connect them with available personal injury attorneys.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident, don’t hesitate to call 1-800-Injured today to request a free consultation with an experienced attorney in your area.