What to Expect from an IME (Independent Medical Examination)
When filing a worker's compensation claim, your employer's insurance company may require you to undergo an independent medical exam (IME). An IME is conducted by a physician appointed by the insurance company to give their professional opinion on any discrepancies or disputes in your worker's compensation claim, as well as whether or not it is work-related. Here’s what you can expect.
What Is an IME Doctor?
An Independent Medical Examination (IME) doctor is a neutral, third-party physician chosen by an insurance company to conduct a medical evaluation used to resolve questions about an injured worker's condition, usually in relation to a dispute regarding the extent of their injuries or recovery. While in many cases this doctor will be chosen for you by the insurance company, some states have systems that require these doctors to be randomly selected from a predetermined list in an effort to help keep these evaluations impartial.
Do I Have to Attend an IME?
Yes. If you receive a letter from an insurer requesting your presence at an independent medical examination, you must attend or you will risk losing your workers' compensation benefits. While the insurance company may call it a request, the hard truth is that if you refuse to undergo an IME, your claim will almost certainly be denied.
How to Prepare for an IME
Keep in mind that the physician conducting the IME works for the insurance company — and their opinions often lean in favor of the insurance company. To avoid a workers' compensation claim denial, it's vital to know how to prepare. Here's what to do before heading into your IME appointment:
Bring a friend or relative to your exam You will be asked many questions, so having someone assisting you with taking notes and recording the details of your IME can be helpful to your case.
Only discuss the facts of your injury While you must disclose information about your work-injury, stick to the facts. Any information provided can be used as testimony against you.
Don't sign any documents If you are asked to sign any documents, consult with your workers' compensation attorney before doing so. Any materials you sign may be used as legal evidence.
Study your medical history The IME doctor will likely already have access to your relevant medical records as well as any history of injuries or illnesses related to your current condition. Be honest about these injuries and make sure to highlight how your current condition is different from before.
Remember how your injuries occurred The IME doctor will likely ask you how your injury occurred and the exact details leading up to your injury. This will be to make sure your injury is indeed work-related as well as to see if there are any inconsistencies in your story. Answer briefly and consistently with any previous statements you have made. Do not be afraid to point out any inaccuracies in existing reports.
Remember your course of treatment Look over any notes you have regarding the treatment you have received for this injury prior to meeting with an IME doctor. Again, the IME doctor will be looking for inconsistencies in your statements, so it is important to have a general knowledge of the types of treatment you have received and when.
What Will The IME Doctor Ask You?
When the IME doctor is asking questions, it's important to stick to the facts and refrain from exaggerating the particulars of your injuries as well as your limitations. The IME physician may ask about the following:
Your medical history
How your work accident happened
What types of treatments you are currently receiving
Common Tests Performed During an IME
The IME physician may order their own tests to learn more about your work-related injury. Depending on the type of injury, you may be required to undergo the following tests:
If you've suffered a work-related injury or illness, and need assistance with filing a workers' compensation claim, we can help. Contact Spellen Law, LLC today at (205) 810-2275 for a free case evaluation. Our experienced workers' compensation attorneys will fight for the benefits you deserve.