Workers’ Compensation and Independent Medical Examinations

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If you file a workers’ compensation claim, you will probably be expected to undergo an Independent Medical Examination (IME). The doctor will be chosen by the workers’ compensation insurance company and he will be examining you, not treating you. Undergoing an IME does not prevent you from being treated by your own doctor.

Because the doctor will be selected by the insurance company, an inherent conflict of interest exists between providing objective medical conclusions and supporting the insurance company’s desire to deny or minimize the value of your claim. For obvious reasons, you will need to take certain precautions to ensure that the process is fair to you. Moreover, you may have to undergo several IMEs during the pendency of your claim.

Questions the Doctor Will be Seeking to Answer

The doctor’s examination will be designed to answer the following questions:

  • Whether your injury is consistent with the type of injury that would be expected from the accident you were involved in.
  • Whether your symptoms were actually caused by the accident.
  • Whether the treatment recommended by your doctor is appropriate.
  • How serious your injuries are.
  • How much pain you are suffering.
  • The degree of your disability, especially as it pertains to your ability to work.
  • Whether you have reached “maximum medical improvement” (MMI), which is the point where no further improvement is expected regardless of whether you have made a full recovery.
  • Whether you are faking or exaggerating your disability.

How to Prepare for Your IME

  • Obtain a copy of correspondence between the insurance company and the doctor.
  • Obtain and review your own medical records, and show them to your lawyer.
  • Write down the story of exactly how the accident happened, and memorize all of the details.
  • Keep a journal of your day-to-day symptoms, and review them before the examination.
  • Don’t lie or exaggerate your symptoms, but don’t minimize them either. Exaggerating your symptoms could get you accused of fraud, in which case you may be denied any benefits at all, even though you actually suffer from a disability. Minimizing your disability, on the other hand, will only reduce your benefits.
  • Don’t be late for your appointment.
  • Be polite and professional. True, the doctor may be your potential adversary (since he can serve as an expert witness against you if his findings disagree with your claim), but don’t treat him like one, at least when it comes to your demeanor.
  • Write down a summary of your exam, including which questions the doctor asked you. Keep it for your personal records and show it to your lawyer.

Act Quickly to Protect Your Claim

You should begin preparing for your Independent Medical Exam well before it actually takes place, and you should do so with the advice of a skilled workers’ compensation lawyer who can review the facts of your case, anticipate possible problems and advise you on countermeasures.

Contact Kentucky workers’ compensation lawyer Glenn Martin Hammond at (606) 437-7777, or complete our online contact form, to schedule a free consultation so that we can discuss your options. We charge no upfront fees, and nothing at all unless we win your case.

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