About Independent Medical Examinations (IME)
When you file a workers’ compensation claim, your insurance policy might require you to submit to an independent medical examination (IME). In the event that the adjuster for your company sets up an appointment for an IME, there are some things you can do to protect yourself during and after the exam, particularly if the report submitted by the doctor is inaccurate and harmful to your workers’ compensation claim.
We have compiled some helpful information regarding independent medical examinations and what you should do if you are required to submit to one:
- Bring a friend along: Ask a trusted friend or a family member to go with you to the IME. Make sure you explain what it is beforehand and how you would like them to help. The person you bring with you can take notes on when the doctor starts and ends the exam, what questions he or she asks you, what tests are performed and how long they took, as well as any other details that might escape your memory later on. Additionally, your friend or family member can serve as a witness if you are later put in a position where you have to argue with the insurance adjuster regarding the fairness or accuracy of the examination. Having someone else present with you at your IME can also keep the doctor from behaving in a rude manner or attempting to intimidate you.
- Counter a bad report: Keep in mind that the doctor conducting your IME likely works for the insurance company and, thus, his or her goal is to keep the insurance company happy to ensure this lucrative relationship continues. Unfortunately, for you, this means the reports these types of doctors provide usually minimize an accident victim’s injuries. However, you are not powerless against this tactic. Here are some actions you can take to counter a bad report:
- Request a copy of the report: Until you have a copy of the doctor’s report in your hands, you should refuse to discuss it with the adjuster. Do not settle for portions of it or even an adjuster’s version of it.
- An unfair examination: A brief or superficial exam that did not even involve a thorough discussion of your medical history or symptoms is not a proper examination. Point any of these applicable factors out to an adjuster. The person you brought with you can offer support in this matter.
- Point out inaccuracies: If there are inaccuracies or information that is incorrect, point them out to the adjuster. It would also be helpful if you had your own medical records that could back up any of your statements.
- If the IME report is particularly negative: In this case, you might want your own doctor, preferably a specialist you have been receiving treatment from, to write a response to the IME. Provide a copy of the report to your doctor and ask if he or she would be willing to counter it. Since this service is likely to cost you extra, ask in advance how much you will be charged for it. Depending on what your doctor is willing to write, it may or not be worth the cost.
- Request information regarding the nature of the IME doctor’s relationship with the insurance company: understanding the relationship between the doctor who conducts your IME and the insurance company is no small matter. Request, in writing, the number of IME referrals the insurance company has given the doctor who did your IME over the past five years, how much he or she is paid for each IME, and how many IMEs he or she performed for plaintiffs’ attorneys during that same period. Of course, the adjuster will not provide you with any of this information, but it will put him or her on the defensive, and perhaps open up some reasonable negotiations regarding a settlement offer.
Workers’ Compensation Attorneys in Orange County
Workplace injuries can be serious, leaving employees out of work for some time and requiring costly medical care. This is why injured workers are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. At Alvandi Law Group, P.C., our Orange County workers’ compensation attorneys are solely dedicated to representing injured workers to ensure they get the compensation they need.
For the help you deserve, contact our office today at (800) 980-6905 to schedule a free case evaluation with an experienced member of our legal team.