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Part of the process to get worker's compensation benefits is having an independent medical examination. Without the examination, your employer's insurance company can choose to deny your benefits. Before undergoing the examination, it is important you understand how it can impact your case.
What Is the Independent Medical Examination?
The independent medical examination, or IME, is a thorough medical evaluation that is conducted by an independent doctor. The doctor will ask questions about your health prior to and after the injury you experienced at work.
The examination is usually requested by the employer. The most common trigger for an IME request is a question about whether or not a treatment recommended by your medical care provider is necessary.
If you have filed for and was denied benefits in this case before, a judge could order an IME as part of the appeals process.
Who Is the Doctor in the IME?
The doctor in the IME is, by definition, supposed to be independent. Whether or not the doctor really is independent is based largely on how he or she is chosen.
In many instances, the insurance company chooses the doctor. As a result, the doctor receives financial compensation for conducting the examination. This could lead to the doctor being less than objective when examining you.
What Happens After the IME?
Once the IME is complete, the doctor will make a recommendation to the insurance company regarding your injuries and treatment. If the IME is not in your favor, this could prove to be problematic.
It is difficult to cast doubt on the recommendations on the doctor. The doctor is considered to be an expert and as such, his or her opinions are given a lot of weight.
However, this does not mean you cannot challenge the IME report. For instance, if you find errors in the report relating to your medical history, you can use that to cast doubt on the entire report.
You also have the right to file a dispute with your state's labor board and ask that another IME is conducted. Your attorney can request that an independent doctor chosen by you is selected for the IME. The labor board could also choose a doctor for the second examination.
The IME can make the difference between the insurance company denying or approving your claim. A bad report could delay your benefits and leave you without the medical coverage you need. By working with a worker's compensation attorney like J. Bradley Baker, LLC, you can ensure that you have a voice in how your IME is viewed.