Q. What is a CME?
A. CME stands for ‘Compulsory Medical Examination’. Once known as the Independent Medical Exam, it is one of the key tools that will be used by the other side to avoid paying you what you deserve after an accident. If this exam finds that you are uninjured or that your injuries aren’t related to your accident, an insurance company can refuse to provide you with any kind of compensation at all.
Q. Do I choose the doctor I see during the CME?
A. No. A CME is completed by a medical professional that is paid by your insurance provider. They choose who you see, and provide them with payment for the exam. Obviously, this raises a clear issue in that since the insurance company is paying the doctor, they have their best interests in mind. Insurance companies will have a pool of medical professionals that they will use to conduct a CME.
Q. What do I do at the CME?
A. Simply put, remember why you are there. The doctor conducting the CME is there for the insurance company. While you shouldn’t be rude or disrespectful, things like joking or acting aloof is a bad idea. You need to act in the same manner you would during a trial. There is little you can do about the exam itself, but your attitude could play a role in their determination. Additionally, there are some other steps to take.
These include the following.
- Be prompt
- Be honest
- Don’t volunteer any information not asked for
- Answer all questions clearly
- Be sure that the doctor doesn’t lead you or put words in your mouth.
Q. What about my own doctor?
A. You need to schedule an appointment with your physician on the same day that you will be visiting the physician conducting the CME. The reason? Those two medical examinations could return very different results. It’s common to see a CME report from a doctor saying that a victim is unhurt, and then get a report from a non-CME doctor discussing the severity of the injuries a patient is experiencing. Your doctor should write a letter regarding your injuries so you can use it to show both sides of your case.
Q. How is this fair to the injured?
A. Simply put, it isn’t. That’s why there has been litigation concerning CMEs for years. Representatives for the injured want to be able to record or videotape the CME or have clear information about past exams that a CME has done and those outcomes. But for now, the CME remains an option that the insurance companies can and will use, and it is still one of their most powerful tools in their arsenal.
Q. What about long-term injuries and recovery?
A. This is one of the big things that insurance companies want to avoid having to pay for, and as such your CME will have a dramatic impact on it. If your injuries will take months or years to recover from, the other side will want to prove that they’re not related to the accident. That’s the big reason that seeing your own doctor and enlisting the help of an experienced personal injury lawyer is so important. It’s the only way to fight these unethical CMEs and make sure you get the compensation that you are truly owed.
Q. What will my attorney do to help?
A. Your lawyer will offer guidance to you before and after the CME is conducted, telling you what to expect and what concerns you should pay close attention to. However, your lawyer will also do what is needed to fight against a false CME. They may use secondary medical exams from other medical professionals to show that the CME isn’t accurate, for example. While the insurance company will have plenty of tools on their side, your best ally will be your lawyer.