Preparing for an Independent Medical Exam (IME)
You’ve had an accident on-the-job and now it is time to get the insurance carriers involved. The insurer for the other party wants to ascertain just how injured you really are.
Whether a workers’ compensation case or personal injury claim, you would be well-advised to have an experienced Alabama personal injury attorney advising you during this process. Insurance companies have all the reason in the world to minimize your injuries and pay you less than you deserve.
Even though it is not with your treating physician, an independent medical exam (IME) provides a second look at your condition and a second opinion on the extent of your injuries.
The question is always just how objective is this doctor?
Your employer may request an independent medical exam be done by a physician who is returning a favor to your employer and may not be as impartial as you would like.
The physician may be retired with no special training in examining worker injuries, so it pays for you to be prepared for your independent medical exam. At this time, you may want to consider contacting Mr. Nix to help you prepare for the process ahead.
It is always a good idea to have another person there, taking notes and providing a witness to the exam process and conclusions.
- First- be prepared to answer just how the accident
occurred. What time did it happen, the date, who was present, and how were you
- Be prepared to answer how your injury affects your
life on a daily basis. Just how are you injured and to what extent? What can
you not do today that you could do before the accident? Can you still work as
you did before the accident?
- Did you have any injuries before the accident that
are related to this injury? How can you be sure they are not related and the
prior injury is not part of what you are experiencing today? Be sure to bring
in all of your medical records past and present.
- What does your treating physician say about your ability to heal and return to the degree of health you enjoyed before the accident? In other words, is your condition permanent? What is your prognosis?
Make sure you and your witness take detailed notes on how long the exam took to complete. If the IME doctor claims he fully examined you and it took two minutes, for example, his conclusions could be challenged.
For your part, please provide information that is accurate to the best of your ability to recall. Avoid exaggerating or overstating anything that can later be contradicted with evidence.
The result of the IME can significantly affect your workers’ compensation case and how much you will receive in benefits.
Ultimately, the IME should answer
just how and when you return to work and under what conditions. Don’t be
surprised if the employer’s insurance-compensated doctor minimizes your
Remember this IME has been called in by the insurance company to agree or disagree with your treating physician and your prospects for the future. But there may be questions as to how your doctor was selected.
If the insurance company selected the doctor who is being paid by the insurance company, that doctor has an incentive to minimize your injuries.
There is no expectation of privacy when discussing your condition with this doctor and understand that any statement you make could be used against you. This is different from a normal physician-patient relationship, because this technically is not your doctor.
The IME doctor will be producing a report with his conclusions about your injuries.
Since you need to preserve your rights, be sure to ask for any communications between the IME doctor and the insurance company. That provides you with the opportunity to correct any errors about you or your injury.
This is a time when it is important to have a workers’ compensation attorney working on your side to make sure all communications are provided.
Mr. Chip Nix will help you correct an improper entry. It will be important to send a certified letter to both the doctor and insurance carrier fully explaining and detailing the mistake and supporting it with documentation. Make sure you receive their response.
If there are conflicting reports, you may be required to request a second IME performed by a doctor you choose.