When you’re injured on the job, your doctor will determine what medical treatments you need and whether you’re able to work. However, if your employer’s insurance provider disputes your doctor’s recommendations, they may require an independent medical examination, or IME. The results of an IME can impact your workers’ compensation claim, so it’s important to know how to prepare if one arises.
What Is an IME?
An independent medical examination is an exam used by the insurance company to verify the extent and nature of your injury. The doctor performing the IME is supposed to be neutral, but they’re usually paid by the insurance company to perform the exam, creating a potential conflict of interest.
Preparing for an IME
When preparing for an IME, following these steps can help you get the best possible results for your workers’ comp claim.
Know What Questions Will Be Asked
First, it helps to know what questions might be asked during the examination. The insurance company will likely send the IME doctor a copy of your medical records, a description of your injury, and information on any medical care you’ve received as well as disputed issues. If at all possible, ask for a copy of this letter and review it to eliminate any mistakes.
Review Your Case
Next, review the details of your case. In particular, pay close attention to injuries you might have had prior to your work accident. Studying the details of when those occurred and how they might factor into your case will help when answering the IME doctor’s questions.
Bring a Friend
If permitted, bring a friend with you to the examination. A trusted friend can provide much needed moral support while also acting as an eyewitness to the exam should its results need to be called into question.
Have a Timer Ready
It might also be beneficial to discreetly time the examination. If the IME is a bit on the short side—which is likely—you might be able to make a strong case for it not being thorough.
Finally, and most importantly, be honest. Don’t exaggerate your injury or bend the truth in any way during your examination. If the doctor suspects that you’re being at all dishonest during your examination, it can dramatically harm your case. By being clear on exactly how much your injury affects you without overstating anything, the doctor will be less able to accuse you of trying to exploit the system.
Beating an IME
After you’ve prepared everything, going through the IME itself should be easier. In addition, it helps to keep in mind that the truth is typically on your side, particularly if you have a strong case to begin with. In addition, do your best to be calm and respectful during the exam. Confrontation will only hurt you in this situation.
Finally, before heading to your exam, consult with a workers’ compensation attorney. By involving a lawyer from the very beginning of your case, you’ll be better equipped to handle situations where the insurance company disputes your claim. If they’ve scheduled an IME, there’s already a dispute, so it’s best to involve legal help.