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Anatomy of an insurance company IME ‘hatchet job’

November 12, 2014 by Steven M. Gursten

Top 9 dirty tactics insurance company doctors use during so-called independent medical exams, or IMEs

IME hatchet job

Do you know what a “hatchet job” is?

It’s when one person sets out to hurt another person by writing something scathing, malicious, biased and unjustified.  It’s also a way that insurance companies save millions in states like Michigan, by sending people out for short, one-time insurance medical exams (IMEs).

Tragically, that’s what these insurance company-ordered IMEs  have become: hatchet jobs.

In reality, IME exams – the nastier the better – are used to set up denials of No Fault benefits and workers compensation benefits. They’re used to contest the pain and suffering of people who are seriously and legitimately hurt in automobile accidents.

And the system is rigged with enormous incentives for insurance companies and skilled defense lawyers to use IME exams. They are given vast discounts at case evaluation and arbitrations on what they otherwise would have to pay based upon these “second opinon” IME exams.  Sometimes, unsuspecting juries believe them, and listen to the insurance company doctor who said there was “nothing wrong” with an injured auto accident victim.

IMEs also cause psychological damage to the people who must undergo them.  Imagine how you would feel if you knew a complete stranger – and a medical doctor to boot – said you’re are exaggerating or malingering your injuries from a car accident for money.  Imagine how sickened you would feel if you read the report from the IME doctor, and read about “admissions”  you allegedly made to this doctor that you know you never said.

I’ve recently written blogs saying IMEs are conducted by “very biased” doctors who are “wholly lacking in credibility as well as reliability” such as this one about my “dear friend” Dr. Greiffenstein, a defense neuropscyologist in Michigan who performs frequent IME exams in this state.  And those words above are not from me, but  from  a federal judge.

I’ve also written about how auto insurers, such as State Farm, have implemented IME policies that aim to increase profits by tens of millions of dollars by targeting auto accident victims for No Fault benefit denials and cut-offs.

Today, I want to talk about the following Top 9 most common “hatchet job” tactics IME doctors use. This is based upon my last 20 years as a lawyer helping people hurt in car and truck accidents. I’ve literally read thousands of these IME reports, and deposed and cross-examined several hundred IME doctors. Here’s my list:

  1. Lying: Putting words in the auto accident victim’s mouth that help the insurance company.
  2. Fabricating medical conditions that the auto accident victim doesn’t have to justify with a diagnosis that’s “safe” for the insurance company and won’t cost the insurance company money.
  3. Blaming chronic pain on medical conditions that don’t exist, and that do not cause pain.
  4. Blaming chronic pain on causes unrelated to the car accident.
  5. Ignoring actual, well-documented medical evidence of injuries that support the diagnoses of treating physicians.
  6. Ignoring  “unfavorable” facts.
  7. Using non-standardized tests that cannot be independently scored by third-parties to verify the accuracy and reliability of the tests.
  8. Misrepresenting medical evidence and  diagnostic testing.
  9. Telling the auto accident victim, ‘It’s all in your head.’

Were and every one of these IME tactics were on display in my case of Fairley v. Schiber Truck?  In this case, attorney Tom James and I represented a man who suffered a traumatic brain injury, depression and two fractured vertebrae when he was rear-ended by a semi-truck and pushed into another oncoming semi-truck.

You can decide for yourself. Tomorrow I will show how this played out in real IME dep of Dr. Rosalind Griffin.

You tell me how many of the IME abuses and “hatchet job tactics” you can find (and I will include the actual transcript itself so you can see word for word exactly what was asked and how my questions were answered by Dr. Rosalind Griffin).

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