Is it time to remove the word “independent” from “IME”?

Plaintiff’s bar has generally recognized that IMEs may be many things, but “independent” was clearly not one of them.  Recently, an appellate court has reached the same conclusion, and it may be a useful citation to attorneys who seek to argue the obvious.

While a few weeks ago we told you about this decision in which a New York appellate court found that spoliation of evidence applies only to a party’s destruction of inanimate objects, not one’s body, the court’s discussion about IMEs is equally important and interesting.  The decision is available here.

The language used by the appellate panel in the decision suggests that the court is bothered or fed-up by the label “independent medical examination”.  The court’s first reference in the decision to an independent medical examination includes quotation marks around the word “independent”. Thereafter, throughout the decision, the court simply refers to the examination as an “ME” instead of an “IME”. Towards the end of the decision, the court notes that there is nothing “independent” about an ME, as it is not an occasion for treatment, and is conducted and controlled by a legal adversary.

Is it time to retire the term “IME” and instead use “ME”? Perhaps the term should be changed to Defense Medical Exam or Insurance Medical Exam, which more accurately describe the circumstances under which a PI plaintiff is evaluated at the request of the insurance carrier or defense counsel.

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