What is an independent medical exam (IME) and how might it affect your workers’ comp case?
Workers’ compensation claims are filed throughout Georgia and nationwide every day. When someone gets injured at work or is diagnosed with an occupational illness, they may be entitled to benefits through workers’ compensation.
However, there are certain procedural steps that may be required of you before you get your benefits. One of those steps is to undergo an independent medical examination (IME).
What is an IME?
An independent medical examination may be requested by your employer before any part of the workers’ compensation claim can move forward. This is a medical examination by someone other than your normal treating physician.
In other words, the company may request a neutral third-party doctor or physician to examine you and your injuries before proceeding with payment. This is done so as to get the most accurate and unbiased assessment possible moving forward.
The results that come back from an IME are critical as they point to the most neutral assessment of your injuries, the severity and the probable cause. All of these facts play heavily into any potential court case involving your workers’ compensation claim.
Steps to take before the medical exam
There is no getting out of taking an IME if one is requested and you want to move forward with your workers’ compensation claim. Therefore, prepare yourself for the fact that you will likely have to take this examination. It is best to prepare ahead of time so that you are not blindsided.
Start by getting familiar with your medical history. The physician that you see will probably have a lot of questions for you related to past medical conditions. They likely have your complete medical history on hand as well, but it is a lot easier to get some of those details from you directly. They will be curious about the injured area and how your job may have played a role.
Collect as much documentation as you can about how the injury occurred and the circumstances surrounding it. If you can get your hands on witness statements, video footage and anything else that may be helpful to show what happened, that is a great thing. The IME doctor may want to see some of these things to help make their assessment.
Finally, tell the physician about the symptoms you are experiencing currently. Let them know specifically what kinds of pain you are in and what parts of your body have been affected. Explain your pain levels and anything else that could be relevant to your injury. These are all critical details related to making a determination about where your case is going.
What you should NOT do during an IME
Always remember that going to an IME doctor is for an official purpose related to your workers’ compensation claim. You should not be adversarial or defensive, but you should also avoid being too casual or flippant. There are a lot of important decisions to be made by this doctor that could change the course of your workers’ compensation case.
Handle yourself in a professional manner and never exaggerate or “play up” your injuries. Simply present them as the facts that they are and move on from there. It will be abundantly clear to any well-trained doctor if you are making more of a show of your injuries than what is really there. Don’t insult their intelligence by trying to make a scene.
Don’t lie. You should only talk about what you know for a fact and that you can prove. There is no point in trying to make a claim that you can’t follow up. Don’t try to speak for others who may have witnessed the incident; they will do their own speaking for themselves.
When to consult a Georgia workers’ compensation attorney
A lot of people think of an IME visit as something that they just have to get through to move on to the next thing. It is okay to view it that way, but make sure you take it seriously and manage your demeanor properly.
If you were injured on the job in Georgia, contact our work injury attorneys as soon as the independent medical exam is complete and let us know what happened. We can work out the details of your case as well as the results of the IME doctor’s examination and see what the next best course of action is for you.