Advice on what to expect during the “independent” medical exam and how to protect yourself
The workers comp IME can be a great source of stress and confusion for injured workers in Michigan. The frequently asked questions below will help you understand what to expect during these doctor visits, and that the insurance doctors are not really on your side.
To speak with one of our workmans comp lawyers now, call us at (844) 345-0952. You can also fill out our free consultation form. The call is free and the advice is free.
Q. What is a workers comp independent medical exam (IME)?
A. Employers and insurance claims adjusters commonly send injured workers for “second opinion” exams by an “independent” doctor. This is called an IME, which stands for insurance medical exam, or independent medical exam.
These “independent” insurance doctors are selected by your employer or a workers compensation insurance company, and they are paid a lot of money to find “nothing wrong” with seriously injured workers.
If you’ve been told to see an IME, it’s best to speak with an experienced workers comp attorney to make sure your rights are protected. Call us at (844) 345-0952.
Here’s more information about medical treatment and your workers comp lawsuit.
Q. Do I have to attend the IME?
A. If you receive a letter requesting your presence at an independent medical examination, you are required by law to attend. The IME gives your employer or its insurance company an opportunity to have you examined by a doctor of their choice.
It sounds confusing, but if you do not attend this examination, you face losing your workers compensation benefits. Yet insurance medical examiners will frequently say they seriously injured workers are “not injured” and can return to work.
If you’ve received a letter requesting an appointment with an insurance medical examiner, call one of our Michigan work comp attorneys at (844) 345-0952. We can protect your legal rights, and make sure an IME doesn’t interfere with your benefits.
Q. How can an independent medical exam hurt me?
A. Workers compensation pays all reasonable and necessary medical treatment for your work injury. Workers compensation also pays wage loss if you are disabled and cannot work.
Insurance companies frequently deny paying these benefits based upon the independent medical examination.
Your workers compensation benefits can be stopped regardless of what your doctor says. But it’s common for an independent medical examination to conclude that your condition is not work-related or that you can go back to work without restrictions. Many IMEs even find no evidence of injury. It may be determined that your condition is “just part of the aging process” or that your complaints are subjective and there is “nothing wrong with you.”
The truth is that these examinations are not really “independent.” Insurance companies use the same doctors over and over again, because they know what to expect. Some of these doctors earn hundreds of thousands of dollars per year and make a career out of testifying for insurance companies.
Q. What can I expect during the IME?
A. The doctor who performs an independent medical examination will not provide any medical treatment and no doctor-patient relationship will be established.
You will be asked some questions and undergo a physical examination. Some independent medical examinations only take up to 15 minutes.
The doctor will then prepare a written report about your medical condition and give an opinion about whether you can work. This report should be provided to you or your lawyer within 15 days after it is completed.
Do not be intimidated by the independent medical examination. This is standard procedure for most workers compensation claims. Individuals are frequently sent to these examinations even when benefits are being paid voluntarily and there is no dispute.
Q. How should I respond to the doctor’s questions?
A. The doctor selected by the insurance company is not personally out to get you and is only giving his professional opinion about your medical condition. You should be polite and try to cooperate the best you can. Do not have an attitude or get defensive about any questions asked.
We find that most doctors who perform these examinations appreciate honesty and straightforward answers.
Our clients report that some independent medical examinations take no more than 10-15 minutes. Do not be discouraged or try your best to answer any questions that are asked.
Do not exaggerate or fake symptoms as this can quickly be discovered during a physical examination.
You will always have the opportunity to challenge a bad medical opinion in court. You can present evidence from your own doctor at this time. Fighting with the doctor at the independent medical examination will do you no good and can make your situation even worse.
Q. How can I prepare for an IME?
A. It is extremely important that you 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 prevent you from working. You should also be able to explain how your everyday life has been affected.
Be prepared to talk about any preexisting conditions. This is especially true if you had a prior injury somewhere else. Explain how you could work before but cannot now.
Have questions about your independent medical exam?
Call our work comp attorneys at (844) 345-0952, or you can fill out our free contact form.
We have been protecting injured workers for more than 35 years. We can see to it that you receive the proper medical treatment, and that your work comp benefits are protected.