Michigan workers comp lawyer outlines some ways to prepare for an independent medical examination.
The workers comp law requires that you submit to an independent medical examination if requested by your employer or its insurance company. This gives them the opportunity to have you examined by a doctor of their choice.
The doctor who performs the examination will not provide you with any medical treatment and no doctor-patient relationship will be established. The doctor will simply prepare a report with his opinion about your medical condition and whether you can work. This report should be provided to you or your attorney within 15 days after it is completed.
The truth is that these examinations are never really independent. Insurance companies use the same doctors over and over again because they know what to expect. Many of these doctors make a career out of testifying for insurance companies and earn hundreds of thousands of dollars per year.
It is common for a doctor performing an independent medical examination to determine that your condition is not work-related or that you can go back to work without any restrictions. Many even find no evidence of injury.
Here are some tips that you can use to prepare for an independent medical examination.
Don’t be intimidated by an IME
The independent medical examination is standard procedure in nearly all workers compensation cases. People are sent to these examinations even when benefits are being paid voluntarily and the injury has not been disputed. The doctor selected by the insurance company is not out to get you and is only giving his opinion about your medical condition.
You should be polite and try to cooperate the best you can. Don’t have an attitude or get defensive about any questions asked. We find that most doctors who perform these examinations appreciate honesty and straightforward answers.
You will have the opportunity to challenge a bad medical opinion in court. You can also present evidence from your own doctor at this time.
Do your homework before the examination
It is very important to provide the examining doctor with an accurate history. Take some time to think about the date and circumstances of your injury before the examination.
You should be able to explain how you were injured and what symptoms are keeping you from working. You should also explain how your everyday life has been affected. Be prepared to talk about how your work injury has significantly aggravated any preexisting conditions.
Bring what you can to the appointment
You will be asked to bring medical records and reports to the examination. As a general rule, you do not have to bring these items as the insurance company can obtain them on its own. However, if you do have a medical record or report that supports your claim, you can bring that to the appointment. An example would be a positive MRI report.
Do not sign any medical releases or other documents without consulting a lawyer. You can politely decline and ask to take it home to review. You do not have to worry about signing in for the appointment.
Focus on answering the questions
Our clients often report that the independent medical examination takes no more than 10-15 minutes and the doctor has little interest in hearing about how the injury occurred. Don’t be discouraged and try your best to answer any questions that are asked.
Don’t exaggerate or fake any symptoms. This can be discovered during the physical exam and will ruin your case.
Make sure you have someone on your side
You should hire an experienced workers comp lawyer anytime you have an injury at work. Do not wait until you are scheduled for an independent medical examination or until your benefits have been stopped.
To speak with an experienced workers comp lawyer in Michigan, call (855) 221-COMP for a free consultation. We will make sure that your legal rights are protected and that you receive maximum compensation under the law.
- Alex Berman is the founder of Michigan Workers Comp Lawyers. He’s been representing injured and disabled workers exclusively for more than 35 years. Alex has helped countless people obtain workers comp benefits and never charges a fee to evaluate a case.
- Photo courtesy of Creative Commons, by Truthout.org.