If you are filing for workers’ compensation, you might be asked to attend an independent medical examination (IME) as part of the process. This is an important appointment that could have serious ramifications on your ability to receive the benefits to which you are entitled depending on what the doctor observes, as well as the examination’s outcome. It is crucial that you prepare appropriately for your IME to help avoid saying or doing the wrong things.
Read Insurance Company Letters
To arrange your appointment, the claims adjuster who represents your employer’s insurance company will write a letter to the independent medical examination doctor, which will summarize the medical treatment you have already received and ask specific questions regarding your condition that might be in dispute. This letter will essentially frame the issues that will be discussed during your appointment, so make sure you ask to review it prior to your appointment. Make your request in writing and file a copy of it with the workers’ compensation agency where your claim was filed.
Why should you want to review the initial correspondences between the insurance company and the examination doctor? A dishonest or uncareful insurance representative could leave out crucial information regarding your accident and known symptoms, making it more difficult for the doctor to diagnose your conditions. Reviewing that letter can help you catch lapses in information and inform the doctor accordingly.
Know Your Medical History
The doctor you visit will have all of your relevant medical records, including past injuries that might have been affected by your recent workplace injury or illness. You can expect the doctor to ask about issues that could be complicating your overall health right now. Take your time to review your own history and never try to conceal any previous injuries. To get a copy of your medical records, you should write a letter to the appropriate medical board, which an attorney can help you identify if you are having difficulties. You may be required to pay HIPAA fees that are limited to a “reasonable” amount by law.
Understand Your Current Course of Treatment
You will also be asked about your current course of treatment, so take a look at your notes and records of tests, surgeries, or other procedures you might have undergone to treat your workplace injury or illness. You do not need to be an expert on the subject matter or memorize timelines. Knowing enough to answer general questions about it should suffice. It also shows that you are taking your treatments seriously, which will make it more difficult for an insurance company to argue that you lapsed on treatments and worsened your conditions through negligence.
Review Your Symptoms
It is critical to tell the independent medical examination doctor about your symptoms and whether you are still experiencing pain, limitations, and so forth. Write a list of your symptoms and make a note of any daily tasks you have trouble performing as a result of your conditions. The more accurately you can paint a picture of your day-to-day life after your workplace accident, the better the doctor can understand what is happening and reach a diagnosis and prognosis.
It never hurts to arrive at a doctor’s appointment early. This simple concept is especially true for an independent medical evaluation. Plan to arrive early and allow yourself plenty of time to travel. Otherwise, you risk having your workers’ compensation benefits suspended if you miss your appointment.
Bring a Friend or Family Member
The person you bring with you does not need to speak during your appointment. In fact, he or she should just sit tight, take notes of what occurs, provide emotional support, and serve as a witness to the exam. The purpose of bringing along someone you trust is it helps you back up your claims in case there is some dispute as to what occurred during your appointment later down the road.
Call an Attorney Before & After
If you were injured while performing your work duties, you are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits, which can help you stay financially afloat as you recover from your injuries or illness. To prepare for anything the insurance company throws at your claim, such as misleading your independent medical examiner, you should call a workers’ compensation lawyer before and after your examination.
At Alvandi Law Group, P.C. in Orange County, we provide exceptional legal guidance and representation for injured workers from all industries. Our workers’ compensation attorneys can assist you with every step of your claim’s process, including preparing you for your IME. Backed by more than 30 years of experience, you can rest assured your case will be in good hands with us.
Get started on your workers’ compensation case today and reach out to our law firm at (800) 980-6905 to request your free initial case evaluation with one of our knowledgeable attorneys.