IME Issues Lawyer
The Role of an IME in Your Workers’ Compensation Case
IME stands for Independent Medical Examination, and if you file a claim for workers’ compensation benefits in Pennsylvania, it’s not unlikely that your employer’s workers’ comp insurance carrier will ask you to undergo one. On the one hand, you’ve already seen a doctor who’s prescribed a course of treatment for your on-the-job injury, so why do you need to see another? On the other hand, would it hurt to get a second opinion and possibly receive extra free medical care? The fact is that an IME is not done for the purpose of giving you a second opinion or to provide you with any care. The purpose of the IME is to give the insurance company ammunition to declare that your injury is nonexistent or at least greatly exaggerated. So, what do you do when the insurance company requests an IME for you? If you don’t have an attorney representing you yet, call the Figured Law Firm. Our experienced workers’ compensation lawyer will tell you everything you need to know about the IME so you can go into this exam well-prepared, knowing what to expect, and without fear that things you do or say in the IME could harm your workers’ compensation claim.
What to expect during an IME
The doctor who is examining you has a copy of your workers’ compensation claim and is looking for any inconsistencies with the injury as you have described and what can be learned during the exam. You’ll likely be asked to perform a variety of tasks that assess your abilities and functional limitations relative to your injury. Don’t be surprised if you are asked to perform the same task many different times during the exam; the doctor is looking to see if the results are consistent every time.
You’ll also be asked questions regarding your injury, such as what were the circumstances during which you were injured; how has the injury interfered with your home life, hobbies, lifestyle, etc.; and how much pain are you experiencing and when. You’ll probably also be asked to describe your job duties so the doctor can render an opinion about whether and to what extent your injury interferes with your ability to perform your job.
How to get through an IME
The prospect of an IME may make you nervous knowing it could impact your receipt of workers’ comp benefits, but so long as you were honest and accurate in describing your injury on your claim form, the IME should not turn up any surprises. What’s important during the IME is that you continue to be honest regarding your injury and that your statements are consistent with the way you’ve previously described your injury. Don’t downplay your injuries or the pain you’re in, but don’t overstate them either. Also, give complete answers to the doctor’s questions, but don’t offer additional information that goes beyond what the doctor asked. Remember, this doctor is not your personal physician and will not be prescribing medicine or treating you in any way. The questions being asked of you are not for the purpose of treatment but to generate evidence against your claim if possible.
IMEs are not just requested at the start of your workers’ compensation claim. Pennsylvania law allows the insurance company to request an IME every six months, which they may do to see if they can find a way to cut off benefits early, such as through a termination or suspension petition. You are required by law to attend every IME in order to keep receiving benefits. These exams must be scheduled at a reasonable time and place, and the insurer is responsible for paying for the exam as well as covering your travel expenses in the form of mileage reimbursement.
An Experienced Workers’ Compensation Attorney can Help You Prepare for and Survive an IME
With the Figured Law Firm on board representing you, we’ll meet with you in advance of an IME and make sure you understand what to expect and how to get through the exam without hurting your claim. If your employer tries to use the results of an IME against you, we’ll marshal the evidence in your favor, such as your own doctor’s testimony or treatment notes, to show that you truly are as disabled or in need of medical care as you say you are.
For help preparing for an IME or responding to an attempt to suspend or terminate benefits, call the Figured Law Firm at 570-954-9299 for a free consultation with an experienced and successful workers’ compensation lawyer.