You are sitting in Woodriver, Illinois at the intersection of East Madison Ave and South 6th Street. Madison County, Illinois is not the Indy 500, but you are about to find out the trucker doesn't know that. The at-fault semi-truck driver collided with the rear of your vehicle. You haven't worked since because you have herniated discs in your lumbar spine and will need a spine fusion. The tractor trailer simply demolished your vehicle. Now, the insurance company wants you to undergo an Independent Medical Exam (IME for short). What is an IME? How does it work? Do I have to do it? These are all questions you are pondering.
Under Illinois law, you can be forced to undergo an IME. While the IME has the word “Independent” in the title, it is anything but independent. The doctor will be a doctor who providers examination for the insurance company. The goal of the examination will be to help the insurance company in defending its trucking company against your claim. The rule is set forth below.
Within 21 days after the completion of the examination, the examiner shall prepare and deliver to the attorneys for the party requesting the examination and the party examined a written report of the examination, setting out the examiner's findings, results of all tests made, and the examiner's diagnosis and conclusions. The court may enforce compliance with this requirement. If the report is not delivered or mailed to the attorney for the party examined within the time herein specified or within any extensions or modifications thereof granted by the court, neither the examiner's report, the examiner's testimony, the examiner's findings, X-ray films, nor the results of any tests the examiner has made may be received in evidence except at the instance of the party examined or who produced the person examined. [Emphasis added].
Our firm recently argued to bar the use of an IME when said doctor failed to timely provide his report to us and our client. An excerpt from that argument is below:
The Fourth District has found trial court error where a Rule 215 expert was allowed to testify when that expert failed to produce his report to the examined party, with all findings and conclusions, within 21 days of his examination. See Wehmeier v. UNR Indus., Inc., 213 Ill. App. 3d 6, 27, 572 N.E.2d 320, 335 (1991) (holding the trial court was required to bar the presentation of the doctor's testimony because of the failure to produce the report in compliance with Rule 215 (c)).
“The third sentence in Rule 215(c) provides a specific remedy. That remedy is to prohibit the party who requested the examination from offering the examiner's testimony and report at trial…and this remedy, by its plain language is mandatory” Batson v. Township Village Assocs., LP, 2019 IL App (5th) 170403, ¶ 18, 120 N.E.3d 152, 157.
While the Appellate Court allowed for the discretion to impose further sanctions if a trial judge deemed them necessary, i.e. discovery sanctions pursuant to 219(c), it made clear that trial judges lack discretion and must bar testimony in the absence of Rule 215(c) compliance. See, Id.
You may be required to submit to an IME, but you have many rights if you forced to do so. First, you should understand the report will almost never favor your case. If the insurance company doctor fails to give you or your lawyer the report within 21 days of the examination, the doctor and his report cannot come into evidence. Further, the trucking company has to provide you all things that the doctor reviewed in creating his report. Failure to do so can mean the doctor cannot testify. Lastly, you have a right to have your lawyer with you or record (make sure everyone knows you are doing so) the IME. Because the doctor is doing this IME to later testify in court, you have a right to record what he is doing. Again, you always want to make sure all parties know a recording is occurring.
Why would the other side want an IME? Likely the trucking company believes it can claim your injuries were pre-existing. In this scenario, perhaps the semi-truck hit you after you had been off work for a workers' compensation claim for your back. The trucking company will employ the IME to help it claim your injuries were pre-existing and not the result of the eighteen-wheeler rear ending your vehicle.
An experienced personal injury law firm can assist you with an IME. You should seek an injury lawyer with experience litigating IME doctors. For more information on personal injury cases, check out this page.