What Workers’ Comp Claimants Need To Know About Independent Medical Exams

While getting injured at work is no picnic, it's nice to know that your employer provides you with a valuable benefit: workers' compensation insurance. This benefit, available at no cost to you, can provide you with access to medical care at no charge and a partial wage while you stay home and recover from your injury. After you have been receiving benefits, you may be contacted by the insurance company and asked to undergo a specific type of medical exam, the Independent Medical Exam (IME). Your ability to continue to receive workers' comp benefits could rest on the results of this important event, so read on to learn more about the IME to be better prepared for it.

Why am I being asked to undergo an IME?

This request normally comes after you have been out of work for a while, and the insurance company needs to get more in-depth information about your injury. Most injuries heal in time, but some take longer and some are more permanent. An evaluation of your medical status will let the workers' comp insurance company make a decision on your continued benefits or on the possibility of your claim being converted to a permanent injury.

Who will be performing the IME?

This exam is performed by a doctor of the workers' comp choosing and you are not expected to pay for this exam. You should understand that in most cases the IME doctor "specializes" in performing these exams almost exclusively, and you should treat the doctor with respect but with an awareness that this doctor is not a normal doctor, and is not necessarily on your side in your quest to continue receiving workers' comp benefits.

How do I handle the IME?

Your medical information is protected by HIPAA laws in most traditional settings, but the information garnered from an IME is done so expressly to share with the workers' comp insurance company, and in fact from the moment you step from your car until you leave, your every movement will be scrutinized. Keep in mind that this is your moment to communicate how the workplace injury has affected your ability to do your job. You can best prepare for this exam by reviewing your paperwork, reports, medical records and notes about the accident and the medical treatments you have been receiving.

What happens after the exam?

The IME doctor will prepare a report for the insurance company and make recommendations about your case. Normally, your case will result in 3 possible outcomes:

1. You will be deemed well enough to return to your job.

2. You will given more time to recuperate from your injuries.

3. You will be deemed to be permanently disabled, and your benefits will convert to a different type of claim.

If you are worried about your ability to continue to collect benefits, contact a workers' comp attorney for assistance as soon as possible. Contact a business, such as Gilbert, Blaszcyk & Milburn LLP for more information.