Once you file a workers’ compensation claim, you might have to undergo an independent medical examination (IME). Often requested by your employer’s insurance company, an IME is conducted by a doctor other than your own.
Because the IME is important to your case, it’s best to know what to expect during and after the exam. Below, we discuss how to deal with workers’ comp doctors so that you can increase your chances of receiving the benefits you deserve.
If you are facing an independent medical examination for workers’ compensation, the experienced Pasadena CA workers’ comp attorneys at Dewberry Law can help. To learn more about how to deal with workers’ comp doctors, contact us today.
3 Ways to Prepare for the IME
1. Know Before You Go
Before you attend your IME, it is important to understand what it is. An IME is performed by a doctor other than your own. Your employer’s insurance company will request the IME and select the doctor to examine you when it disputes your doctor. The point of the IME is to get another doctor’s opinion about your injuries or illness. The IME doctor will provide their opinion on whether they are work-related and when you should return to work.
2. Find Out What the IME Doctor Knows
The IME doctor could have a letter from your employer or its insurer that you should see before your examination. It could describe how they see your illness or injury and your treatment. It could also reveal what they dispute about your workers’ comp claim and ask the IME doctor to address them.
3. Know the Facts About Your Medical History, Treatment, and Current Symptoms
The IME doctor will be familiar with your medical history and have your medical records. They will ask you questions about your current workplace injury and how it might relate to past injuries. So, make sure you know your medical history. Look over any notes and records of tests, surgeries, or other treatment you received in the past and currently. Familiarize yourself with how your injury happened and what symptoms you’re currently experiencing.
3 Things to Do During the IME
1. Dress Properly, Bring a Friend, and Arrive Early
Make sure you dress in a way that is appropriate for your injury so you look credible. Also, bring a friend or family member to drive you, take notes, provide emotional support, and witness the exam. Your friend should help you arrive early. If you miss your appointment, you could face suspension or denial of your benefits suspended.
2. Be Polite and Honest
Your goal should be to convince the IME doctor that your workers’ comp claim is true and valid. So, don’t do anything unnecessary to undermine yourself like being disrespectful. Also, don’t hide any information or contradict what your records say. The IME doctor will look for inconsistencies between what you and your records say. So, keep your answers short, to-the-point, and consistent. Honestly and accurately tell them the full extent of any pain, symptoms, or limitations you’re experiencing.
3. Explain How Your Current Injury is Different Than Prior Injuries
The IME doctor will need to be convinced that your injury is workplace-related and not due to a prior injury. So, tell them how your prior injury healed and you hadn’t been in pain before your current injury. Or, tell the doctor that you have new pain, symptoms, or limitations because of this new injury.
3 Things to Do After the IME
1. Get It in Writing
Even if you have notes, make sure to write down everything you remember about the IME. Describe how long the IME took, the questions the doctor asked and how you answered, and any tests you took.
2. Read the IME Doctor’s Report
Be sure to read the written report the IME doctor submits. Make note of any misstatements or mistakes they noted about your medical history, treatment, and current pain and limitations.
3. Hire an Attorney
If you don’t have one already, hire an experienced workers’ comp attorney. They will help you navigate the workers’ compensation claim process, especially if you want to challenge the IME doctor’s determinations.