Workers’ compensation benefits are supposed to be an easy, no-fault system that can provide injured workers with important benefits – but not every case goes the way it should.
If your case involves litigation, you can almost bet that you will eventually be sent for an independent medical examination (IME). Before you go, there are a few things you need to know:
IMEs are not really independent
In theory, the independent medical examination (IME) is a critical part of the workers’ compensation process. Its purpose is to evaluate the extent of your injury, assess your medical needs, and determine whether you can return to work. They’re expected to provide a report, not actual treatment.
In practice, the IME is usually performed at the insurance company’s request by a company doctor who makes a large part of their income from such referrals. The doctor won’t long remain on the insurer’s list if they’re seen as “patient-friendly,” so expect them to look for ways to cast doubt on the severity of your injuries or the veracity of your claim.
You need to approach the exam cautiously
Assume that everything you do and say from the time you pull into the medical group’s parking lot is being observed and recorded. This includes how you walk, whether you seem to be in pain (or pain-free), whether you exchange pleasantries with other patients and any comments you make in the lobby.
Prepare for the examination by reviewing your medical records and understanding your injury and its impact on your ability to work. Be ready to quickly give the doctor a rundown of your limitations and what treatments you’ve already tried. Bring any relevant documentation, such as medical records, test results and prescription medications, to the examination. This can help support your case and ensure that the examiner has access to all necessary information.
If you’ve been injured at work and are having trouble getting the benefits you need, it may be time to explore other legal options – especially if you have an IME coming up.