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No-Fault Explained: Independent Medical Exam

After you file a lawsuit seeking no-fault benefits, you will almost certainly be required to attend an independent medical exam, whether you want to or not. That’s because the process is built into the Michigan No-Fault Act. And refusing to attend could cost you your entire claim.

MCL 500.3151 Allowing Independent Medical Exam

The Michigan No-Fault Act directly allows medical examinations by a doctor any time a person’s mental or physical condition is “at issue.” Since every claim for no-fault benefits is based on an injury, the injured person’s condition is almost always disputed. So you will be asked to see a doctor of the insurance company’s choosing, or maybe several, to test whether you are as hurt as you claim you are. Independent medical examiners are paid by the insurance industry, and almost always find in their favor.

Your insurance provider can also include medical examination requirements in its insurance policy. If it does, you will need to see an industry doctor before any claim will be paid.

MCL 500.3152 Independent Medical Reports

Once the examination is done, the insurance company can’t keep it a secret. Under MCL 500.3152, you are entitled to a copy of every report an examining physician makes regarding your condition. But there is a catch. When you ask for a copy of the insurance company’s report, you automatically waive your doctor-patient confidentiality for every doctor who has treated you for the same injury. In other words, if you get their reports, they get yours too.

MCL 500.3153 Refusing an Independent Medical Exam

An independent medical exam can be invasive, so you may want to just skip it. But refusing an independent medical exam can destroy your First Party no-fault case. If you refuse to attend an IME, the court can order:

  • That the jury will use the insurance company’s description of your injuries;
  • That you won’t be able to present evidence of your injuries;
  • That a default judgement be entered against you, dismissing your entire claim, or part of it.
  • That you pay the insurance company’s attorney fees.

Any of these things will make your First Party Lawsuit much harder to win and leave you at risk of walking away with nothing. It is essential that you attend the independent medical exam, even if it is uncomfortable.

Your Auto Accident Attorney Can Help

Courts have held that, while the insurance companies are entitled to independent medical examinations, there are limits to what they can ask or do during those exams. If the requests become excessive or inappropriate, your auto accident attorneys can file a motion with the court to:

  • Limit the number or kinds of independent medical exams;
  • Keep doctors from asking you about how the accident happened;
  • Allow someone to come with you; or
  • Record the exam.

An independent medical exam is no fun. And it never helps your case. But it is a necessary part of collecting your Michigan no-fault benefits. Talk to the auto accident attorneys at Christensen Law to make your next IME as painless as possible.