For those who suffer from an on-the-job injury, you can rest assured that workers' comp insurance will cover you for your medical expenses as well as provide you with a portion of your salary while you stay home and get better. At some point, once you have been collecting benefits for a while, you may receive a request to undergo a particular type of medical exam called an independent medical exam (IME). Read on to learn more about this type of exam and what it could mean for your ability to continue to get workers' compensation benefits.
What is an independent medical exam?
The workers' comp insurance agency uses guidelines based on past injuries to estimate how long you are expected to be out of work due to your specific injury. If a certain amount of time has passed and you claim to still be unable to return to your job, you may be asked to undergo this exam. It should be understood that simply being asked to undergo this exam is not an indicator that you are about to lose your benefits, but is instead a sign that the workers' comp insurance agency needs additional information about your injury and your treatment progress.
What could happen as a result of the IME?
The IME will result in 3 possible outcomes:
1. Your injuries appear to have healed enough for you to return to work.
2. Your injuries are healing, but you need more time off work to recuperate.
3. Your injuries are not going to heal, and you are suffering from permanent injuries.
How should I handle the IME?
Be prepared for this exam by reviewing your past medical information and refreshing your memory. Re-read your accident report and review all past medical treatments, surgeries, hospitalizations, therapies and medications prescribed. The need to be consistent with your facts and information cannot be overemphasized; the lack of consistency could make it appear that your claim is fraudulent or not serious enough for continued benefits. Do not hesitate to bring any paperwork or records with you to the exam.
The IME doctor, who is chosen and paid by the workers' comp insurance agency, will question you and examine you thoroughly, paying particular attention to the body part or parts that were injured. Don't be afraid to speak up and tell the doctor exactly how much pain or discomfort you are continuing to experience and about the effect that the injury has had on your life in general, including the emotional effects.
If you feel you are being denied the workers' comp benefits to which you are entitled, contact a workers' compensation attorney today.