What is an Independent Medical Examination (IME)?
The other side, known as the “defendant,” has requested that their doctor examine you. They have a right to have a doctor of their choice examine you, at their expense. The purpose of this examination is to check your medical condition and the extent of your disability. This will permit their doctor to evaluate the medical treatment that you have received up to the present time, as well as give the defendant ammunition to oppose your claim. It is not unusual for the defendant’s doctor to disagree with the opinions your doctor has expressed concerning your condition.
Do I have to attend the examination?
In most situations you must attend an IME scheduled by the defendant. According to the Workers’ Compensation Act, the defendant has a right to request that you, the injured worker, be examined by an appropriate health care provider or other expert at any time after an injury. If you fail to comply with such a request, without reasonable cause or excuse, you can be denied the right to compensation during the period of your refusal, and possibly future benefits may be forfeited. It has generally been determined that the defendant is entitled to an IME every six months, or two times a year.
What happens at the examination?
At the examination, the defendant’s doctor will ask you questions concerning your past medical history, your present injury, and how you are feeling now. The doctor will also examine you. Additionally, the doctor can require you to undergo tests necessary to determine the extent of your disability. Diagnostic tests such as an MRI or bone scan may be part of the physical examination, provided that the tests are necessary and involve no more than a minimal risk, and are not unreasonably intrusive.
The purpose of the examination is only to help the defendant in its defense of its case. The examination is not intended to provide you with medical treatment and only rarely are you given any medical advice. This examination is a very important part of your case.
What can I do to prepare for the examination?
It is necessary that when you attend this examination, you remember to do the following:
- Before the examination, sit down and take time to think about your injuries and medical problems. Also, think about any prior condition that you may have had involving the same areas of your body for which you are presently claiming injury. Make a list of all of your complaints concerning the part of your body that is injured. It is extremely important that you give the defendant’s doctor a complete and accurate description of your injury and medical history. You should not discuss with the doctor injuries that are not related to this case, unless you are specifically asked.
- Have a friend or spouse accompany you to the examination. It is important that someone, in addition to yourself, be a witness to the events that occur in the doctor’s office. Your friend or spouse, however, may not be permitted to go into the exam room with you and if this is the case, you cannot force the issue. Instead, have them time how long you are in there.
- Be on time for your examination
- Be polite at all times with the doctor and his or her assistants.
- When answering the doctor’s questions, only answer exactly what is asked and nothing more. Do not volunteer any information.
- When asked what injuries you sustained in your claim, it might be helpful if you began with your head and went down your body to your feet, describing fully each and every injury sustained.
- When asked about how your injury or medical problem happened, do not go into great detail. The doctor needs to know what parts of your body were injured, and, in a general way, how the injury occurred. For example, if you injured your back lifting a ten-gallon drum, you can simply tell the doctor that you were doing heavy lifting at work when you hurt your back.
- Do not sign anything you don’t understand. It’s all right, however, to sign medical release authorizations permitting the doctor to obtain copies of your medical records or studies from other medical providers.
- Do not exaggerate or fake your problems. Defendant’s doctors are very good at detecting exaggeration or faking and if they think you are, this will weaken your case. At the same time, do not assume that the doctor will know how badly you really hurt just by examining you. Do not feel ashamed or embarrassed to tell the doctor exactly how you feel and hurt. Tell the doctor in an honest and straightforward manner, without embellishment, about your medical problems.
- The doctor and his staff will be watching you the entire time you are in the doctor’s office and possibly after you leave until you drive away. Therefore, it is important that you do not exaggerate or fake anything at any time.
- If you have pain during the examination, please tell the doctor. Make sure you tell the doctor what parts of your body are still giving you problems. For example, “My lower back still hurts, especially when I sit for longer than half an hour” or “My knee aches when the weather is cold and/or wet.”
- Discuss with your lawyer whether you should take any x-rays, reports or materials to the doctor. If your lawyer tells you to take x-rays, reports or other documents to the defendant’s doctor, do so. Do not take any documents, x-rays or reports to the doctor unless your lawyer approves.
- Do not ask the doctor to give you any opinions about your injury or your case.
- You are being examined by the doctor scheduled to see you. Do not agree to any other examinations.
- You or your witness should take notes during the examination. You should fill out a worksheet about your visit and provide it to your lawyer, and keep it for your records.
If you have any questions concerning the examination or the items mentioned above, please call us at 724-225-9130 or fill out our contact form.