Michigan lawyer discusses the independent medical examination (IME) and what to know before attending this appointment.
Getting hurt on-the-job can be extremely stressful because insurance companies put up roadblocks to paying benefits. Michigan law requires that a disabled employee submit to a medical examination scheduled by the insurance company. This is a source of great stress and worry for our clients because it usually results in a dispute. Many of our clients have been through enough dealing with bad employers and obnoxious insurance adjusters. Here are some IME doctor tricks everyone should know about and how to protect legal rights.
Some people believe the IME 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 disabled employees and play a lot of tricks on work injury victims. No medical treatment is given and only an opinion about causation and disability will be supplied.
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. We know of IME doctors who have made millions of dollars performing these examinations for insurance companies.
It is no secret that IMEs are done under distress. Failure to attend will result in an automatic dispute of benefits. It can be a lose-lose situation because showing up also can result in a dispute of 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
There are 5 tricks that IME doctors use that can ruin your claim or lawsuit: 1) they watch/spy on you; 2) perform fake tests; 3) blame pre-existing conditions; 4) write selective summaries of medical records; 5) they keep sending you to multiple examinations.
1. Watch/spy on you
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 IME report and can be used as justification to stop benefits. Never do anything beyond work restrictions because someone is always watching.
It is also common that the insurance company has obtained surveillance video and will show it to the IME doctor for his or her opinion. Your statements about hobbies and lifestyle can be used against you if they are inconsistent. Don’t volunteer information and only answer specific questions. These doctors are not on your side!
2. Perform 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 questions. 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 the IME so this information can be used at trial.
3. Blame pre-existing conditions
Another one of the many IME doctor tricks 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. Watch out if they say all of your problems are from degenerative arthritis.
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 new symptoms and how they impact everyday life.
4. Write selective 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.
We recommend bringing the IME report to your doctor for a rebuttal opinion. This medical evidence is very powerful when the matter goes before a magistrate. Don’t let IME doctor tricks ruin your workers’ comp case!
5. Keep sending you to multiple examinations
Another trick is that insurance companies send people to multiple IME doctor exams. They do this if the first exam is not enough to cut-off benefits. The general rule is that a person can only be sent to an IME every 6 months. The insurance company can get additional IMEs for other body parts or specific conditions not previously addressed.
Need help with your Michigan workers’ comp claim? Our attorneys can help!
If you suffered an injury on the job in Michigan and feel like you are being a victim of these IME doctor tricks, call now speak with an experienced attorney, or fill out our contact form for a free consultation. There is absolutely no cost or obligation. We’re here for you.
Our attorneys have been exclusively helping injured workers in Michigan for more than 35 years. Our attorneys can help you better understand Michigan laws and what happens after someone has been hurt on the job. To see what our own clients have to say about the caring, compassion, and communication they received from us, you can read in their own words about their experience here on our testimonials page from clients we have helped.
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