What You Need to Know About Independent Medical Exams in Workers’ Compensation Cases
You were involved in an accident at work and suffered a serious injury. You followed standard protocol to the letter, informing your supervisor of your injury and seeking immediate medical attention. Your employer was supportive, submitting your workers’ compensation claim quickly, and you will be out of work for several weeks while you heal. You did everything right, but suddenly, your employers’ workers’ compensation insurer is demanding that you submit to a medical examination by a doctor it chooses.
These independent medical examinations, or IMEs, can be a stressful time for many injured employees. Many individuals feel as though they are in trouble, or that the insurance company is accusing them of lying about their injuries. While intimidating, IMEs are fairly common, but there are a few things that injured employees must be aware of when going into their own IME.
Important Things You Need to Know Before Your IME
Being scheduled for an IME does not mean that you have done anything wrong, but it is a sign that the insurance company is uncertain about your claim. They may not have enough information, or the information they have may be conflicting, but the IME has likely been scheduled to prove or disprove your case.
If you are legitimately injured, the IME will corroborate your claim and serve as evidence in your favor for your case. Still, it is wise to be cautious when entering an IME, as the purpose may be to investigate your treatment or level of disability in order to determine the extent of your workers’ compensation benefits.
Because the doctor performing your IME will be selected by the insurer, it is safe to assume that he or she will likely be on the offensive, looking for inconsistencies in your symptoms and disability rating. This only solidifies the importance of consulting with a workers’ compensation attorney prior to the exam to ensure that your rights as an injured employee are protected.
The doctor will be paying close attention to how you speak, act, and react during the examination, and will report back to the insurance company his or her findings. This will be in the form of a written report, and you must ensure that you are given a copy of this report, as well. You and your workers’ compensation attorney—as well as your own treating physician—can review the report to make sure that it is factual, and pursue action as necessary.
While an IME is not necessarily a kiss of death for your workers’ compensation case, it should be approached with caution to protect your case.
Have You Been Injured At Work?
If you’ve been injured on the job you need to speak with an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer as soon as possible. Contact us online or call our Augusta office directly at (706) 690-4613 to schedule your free consultation.