A workers’ comp case often includes an independent medical examination (IME). While many people are hesitant about these exams, the importance cannot be understated. The IME opinion may be used to prevent the injured person from receiving the level of benefits and care he or she needs.
Who Requires an IME?
An insurance company, a workers’ comp judge or a hearing officer may require an IME. This is done to resolve legal issues with regard to your treatment and level of disability. In some cases, you or your personal injury lawyer may find cause to request one on your behalf.
Who Chooses the Physician?
The agency that requests the IME will make the choice. This can make it extremely suspect when the doctor is selected by an insurance company. If a second opinion is being forced on you by anyone, it is worth talking to NYC personal injury lawyers about this challenge to your rights and needs.
What Happens Before an IME?
Generally, the new doctor will review all of your injury-related documents and your medical records. The insurance company will include their own letter to highlight their questions and concerns. In this way, they reframe the issues surrounding your case. It is easy to see how it could influence the doctor’s thinking, even before you set foot in the office.
If you have a personal injury lawyer, the usual procedure is to request any insurance documents that are sent to the doctor. You can also make this request as a citizen. You want to make sure to give a copy to any governmental agency or court that’s involved in the case.
What Happens During an IME?
There is no patient privilege in an independent medical examination. The doctor will report all of his or her findings to the hearing officer or judge, and it can be reviewed by any insurance company involved. Privacy concerns are one reason that injured workers seek the advice of personal injury attorneys before an IME.
The doctor may ask questions about your medical history, the injury, and treatments you’ve had. Make sure you include how the pain affects your daily life and how it has changed your habits, hobbies, family life, and work life. Some doctors have been known to offer observations on patient behavior in the parking lot or waiting room, comparing it to complaints made in the examining room.
You can ask the doctor how the impairment rating will be calculated. You or your NYC personal injury attorney should request that a copy of any IME reports. Once you have that report, you should check this thoroughly for any possible errors pertinent to your injury or its treatment.
How Does the IME Doctor Hurt or Help My Case?
Unfortunately, a worker’s comp judge tends to give the IME doctor’s opinion more weight than the regular physician. For this reason, you have a limited course of action if the IME doctor reduces your impairment rating. The help of NYC personal injury lawyers may be necessary to ensure full compensation for your injuries.
If you haven’t got a personal injury attorney, a claim denial due to an IME doctor’s report is a good reason to get one. Remember an attorney has knowledge of the system that the average person doesn’t and since they aren’t injured, they have more energy to pursue your claim. Personal injury attorneys can file appropriate objections, finding grounds to reverse the decision. This may include requesting another independent examination or scheduling a deposition to question the IME doctor.
Whatever you do, remember that you have rights. You may want to talk to a personal injury lawyer to get help if your insurance company is demanding an IME.