Michigan lawyer discusses IME doctor tricks and how to protect legal rights under workers’ comp.
Michigan law requires injured employees to submit to a medical examination from time to time. This is a source of great stress and worry for our clients. Many have already been through enough dealing with bad employers and obnoxious insurance adjusters. We hate giving bad news to good people. Unfortunately, this is common when someone has been scheduled for an independent medical examination (IME). Here are some IME doctor tricks everyone should know about.
Some clients believe the independent medical examination is a second opinion and it will help them get a better understanding of treatment options. Others have done internet research and panic when they see negative doctor reviews. The truth is that IME doctors are not independent and get paid large sums of money to testify against injured employees.
One of the IME doctor tricks insurance companies do is use the same doctors repeatedly because they know what to expect. Some exams take no more than 10 minutes. They do not provide any medical advice and just write a report with his or her findings. This report is often used as justification to cut-off medical and/or wage loss benefits.
It is no secret that IMEs are done under distress. Failure to attend will result in an automatic dispute of workers’ comp benefits. It can be a lose-lose situation because showing up also can result in a dispute of workers’ comp benefits. It is a lonely place because family and friends cannot be present in the examination room. Individuals are not even allowed to record the encounter.
IME doctor tricks
One of the IME doctor tricks we tell our clients is that the doctors frequently watch people in parking lots and waiting areas. It is not unusual for these doctors to comment on how someone walks or sits. Observations are frequently included within the independent medical examination report and can be used as justification to stop workers’ comp benefits. Never do anything beyond work restrictions because someone is always watching.
Performing fake tests
Another one of the many IME doctor tricks they use is performing fake tests looking for pain when they know it is impossible for it to hurt given the type of injury. They try to expose people who might be exaggerating symptoms.
Be polite, relaxed, and alert when answering question. Doctors can quickly expose people who exaggerate or fake symptoms. Biased medical opinions can be challenged in court and we caution against picking a fight during the exam. We recommend writing down the details immediately following so this information can be used at trial.
Blaming preexisting conditions
Another one of the many IME doctor tricks they use is to look for preexisting conditions that can be blamed. Our clients are regularly asked about old sports injuries from childhood or medical conditions that have not required treatment for years.
We recommend showing up to the appointment prepared to discuss any preexisting conditions and current problems. Take some time to think about the date, time, and circumstances of the injury. It is very important to provide the IME doctor with an accurate and complete history. Explain symptoms and how they impact everyday life.
Beware of summaries of medical records
IME doctors write summaries of medical records selecting what evidence to highlight. People are frequently asked to bring medical records and tests to the exam. Generally, individuals are not responsible to bring these items as the insurance company can obtain them on its own. A skilled lawyer can expose the weakness of the IME report if it was not based upon all the existing medical records or diagnostic testing.
Michigan Workers Comp Lawyers never charges a fee to evaluate a potential case. Our law firm has represented injured and disabled workers exclusively for more than 35 years. Call (844) 201-9497 for a free consultation today.