In a worker’s compensation case, one doctor appointment could strip you of the disability payments which is putting food on your table and a roof over your family’s head. One doctor appointment could rob you of your access to quality medical care to help you recover from your injuries.
That’s what an IME is …. and if the insurance company is sending you for an IME, they are taking a hard look at your file looking for a way to contain their costs.
“IME” is short for “independent medical examination” which is an exam where you are sent to a doctor who has been selected by the insurance company. There is really nothing “independent” about an “independent medical examination,” the doctor involved has been selected by the insurance company without any input from anyone else.
For you, the result of the exam can be life-changing. Following the IME, the doctor will issue a report which may conclude one or more of the following things:
- That your medical problems were not related to your work;
- That you have fully recovered from your injuries and can return to full, unrestricted duty at work;
- That the treatment which is being recommended for you is unnecessary.
If the doctor writes a report that says any one of those things, that could justify the insurance company cutting you off of benefits, including disability payments and medical care, and telling you to return to work immediately … even if your own doctor says that the injuries he is treating you for are work-related and that you cannot work because of it.
Having you examined by a doctor of their choosing is an expensive proposition – doctors doing these exams routinely charged thousands of dollars for the exam and reviewing the records beforehand. I recently saw an invoice for an exam where the examining doctor charged $3,300 for the exam.
When an insurance company is paying out that kind of money, you can bet that they aren’t doing hoping blindly that the doctor is going to say something favorable to their case. They will have a pretty darn good idea what the result of that exam will be before you set foot in the doctor’s waiting room, and they are not going to be investing their money in making your case stronger.
In short, when you get sent for an IME, you can be reasonably certain that the insurance company is papering up their file with a justification for cutting off your benefits. That is what should make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up.
The good news is that there are processes which allows you to get your benefits reinstated – if there is a case on file with the Worker’s Compensation Commission and if the appropriate petition has been filed with the required supporting documentation – but all of that still takes time under the best of circumstances.
Our recommendation to anyone who is being sent for an independent medical exam is that the time to hire a well-qualified worker’s compensation lawyer is before you actually attend the IME. That way, you have a lawyer who is on board and can start doing the things that are needed as soon possible to get your benefits reinstated because when and if you get cut off from benefits, every day is a struggle.
We hope this Tip has been helpful information. If you suffered an on-the-job injury and would like to learn more about what your options are, please contact us, and we will be in touch with you promptly. Please feel free to share this Tip with anyone who you think would benefit from this. We strongly believe that knowledge is power, and the more information someone has about the rights and options after an on-the-job injury, the better things will be for them.