After filing for workers’ compensation benefits, you will likely have to be examined by a physician chosen by your employer’s insurance company. This is referred to as an independent medical examination (IME) and its results can substantially impact your case. The purpose of an IME is to procure the expert opinion of a physician regarding any disputes involved in your workers’ compensation case. As such, it is important to know what to expect and how to prepare for it.
What Should I Do Before the Exam?
Oftentimes, a claims adjuster will write a letter to the IME doctor. This letter will describe your injuries or illness, in addition to any treatments you might have already received. It will also discuss the issues the insurance company wishes the IME doctor to address regarding any disputes related to your condition. Be sure to ask, in writing, to review this letter ahead of time, so you are able to correct any factual errors and to ensure the questions are appropriate.
The IME doctor will likely have access to all of your relevant medical records, including those related to previous injuries or other workplace illnesses. Therefore, you need to be familiar with your own medical history. Never attempt to conceal a previous injury since this will only hurt your claim.
During your examination, the doctor will inquire as to how the injury occurred. The workers’ compensation system is one that is not based on fault, so the purpose of this question is to determine if the incident that caused your injury was truly related to your occupation. This line of questioning is also meant to find any inconsistencies in your story, so make sure to answer succinctly and consistently. Changes in your story will make it seem as though you are lying, which will obviously do great harm to your claim.
Before you attend your examination, dress appropriately. If you injured your ankle, showing up in high heels is clearly a terrible idea. If your injury calls for the use of certain devices, such as crutches or a sling, wear them. This is not the time to downplay your injury and pretend that everything is fine.
Lastly, bring either a trusted friend or family member with you to your exam. They should not say anything while you are being examined, but they could take some notes and act as a witness.
How to Handle the Exam
Even though the insurance company hired the IME doctor, that does not mean you have a reason to be impolite to him or her. In fact, being hostile during your exam will only harm your claim, so just try to be respectful and polite, even if the doctor is not particularly friendly. It is also important never to exaggerate your symptoms. The IME doctor likely has extensive experience in examining injured workers and is able to accurately determine if they are being truthful regarding their symptoms and limitations.
If you have previous injuries on the same body part that is currently afflicted, mention it and explain how it is different. If it healed years ago and you no longer experience any symptoms, say exactly that. Withholding information at this point will not do you any favors.
Contact a Workers' Compensation Attorney Today!
If you were injured on the job, you could be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. At Chestnut & Beller, our Cobb County legal team is dedicated to protecting the rights of injured workers and ensuring they receive the benefits they deserve and need to get back on their feet. Backed by over 60 years of combined legal experience, you can count on us to effectively represent you.
Begin your case today and call Chestnut & Beller at (770) 285-5542 for a complimentary consultation.