Your medical condition is an extremely important part of your workers’ compensation claim. Whether you can make a full recovery is going to be a key aspect of your case. This is an area that only a medical professional can determine. For that reason, your employer’s insurance company ask you to go to an independent medical exam (“IME”) in addition to seeing your treating doctor.
You may not realize it at the time, but if you have not already gotten a workers’ comp attorney by the time you undergo an IME, it is extremely important to get one as soon as you can after your appointment.
What is an IME?
An independent medical examination involves a specifically qualified workers’ compensation doctor. This doctor will review all of your medical records relating to the injury, and may even view your medical records prior to the injury. He or she will also sit down with you to do an evaluation. During this evaluation, the doctor will perform an examination of your injury and may ask you to perform some simple tasks. He or she will also ask you questions about your job, your work requirements, your hobbies, and your other activities that you do outside of work.
Your doctor will also determine whether you are at “maximum medical improvement” at this appointment, if it has not already been determined. This means that you are at a point in your recovery where you likely are not going to get any better. You may not be 100% improved, but you are as good as you are going to get.
The doctor will also provide the employer’s insurance company with your impairment rating, if appropriate. This percentage assignment is the amount of use of your body that you have lost because of your injury. The higher this percentage, the higher your benefits will be. Of course, higher percentages also indicate the seriousness of the injury.
Why You Need a Lawyer After Your IME
Generally, insurance companies will only send you to an IME if there is a question about the compensability of your claim. That is, they may be “gearing up” to deny your claim, cut off your benefits, and stop medical treatment, depending on the outcome of the IME.
They may also want to send you to an IME to declare that you are at MMI so that they can stop paying benefits sooner. In addition, they may also send you to a very specific doctor who will give you a lower impairment rating than might otherwise be appropriate.
The only way to combat these lower ratings is to line up your own IME. Your IME doctor will be able to tell you whether the insurance company’s doctor is accurate, or if they are actually downplaying your injuries.
Getting Legal Help
These competing IMEs play a vital role in your workers’ compensation case. You may think it is just another doctor’s appointment—but it is so much more. It can give the insurance company a reason to stop your treatment all together! Fight back by using a knowledgeable workers’ comp attorney who can help you get your own IME. Call 781-689-2277 for more information or complete our contact form.