If you've been injured on the job and are receiving workers' comp benefits, you may be asked to participate in a medical exam. This exam, called the Independent Medical Exam (IME), is very different than the exams you have had in the past, and is also different from the medical treatment that you have been receiving for your work-related injuries. This exam will play a prominent role in your workers' comp case, so being prepared is important. Read on to learn more about this exam and how to handle it.
Why am I being asked to undergo this exam?
This exam may be requested after you have been recovering from your injury for several weeks or months. If you are still unable to return to work due to pain or other issues, the workers' comp insurance company will want to gather more information about your condition. You are especially likely to be targeted for this exam if you seem to be taking longer to heal than normal.
What happens at the exam?
You will be interviewed about your injury and the specific body parts involved will be closely examined for pain, flexibility, sensitivity and more. Keep in mind that this doctor is not there to provide treatment for your injuries, but to get more information about your injuries for the workers' comp insurance company.
Preparing for the independent medical examination.
1. Take some time before your exam to refresh your memory of the accident and what has happened since it occurred. Look over any notes or journal entries, the accident report and other documentation you may have.
2. Having copies of your medical records could help you answer the doctor's questions better and to more accurately explain the extent of your medical treatments so far. Don't hesitate to take this, and any other documentation, with you to the exam.
3. Be sure to prepare an updated summary of your current medical condition. Include a list of your medications and ongoing treatments, like physical therapy. List the pain, discomfort, mobility and other physical symptoms that prevent you from returning to your job. Additionally, include the emotional effects of the accident, such as eating and sleeping problems and the effect on your family.
After the exam.
The doctor will send a report with the results and their opinion of your injury to the workers' comp insurance company. The results of this exam could have 3 different ramifications.
1. You may be deeded permanently disabled (or partially permanently disabled) and your weekly benefits will convert to a lump sum payment. Note: some lump sum payments are structured to be paid weekly or monthly, but are still considered lump sum and are very different than the portion of your wages you have been receiving up to now.
2. You may simply need more time to heal to from your injuries and you will be given another IME after some more time has passed. Your current benefits will continue.
3. You may be judged to have recovered enough to return to work either full time or on restrictions.
If you disagree with the results of your IME, contact a workers' comp attorney to help you get the benefits that you need and deserve.