Workers' Compensation: Preparing for an Independent Medical Exam
There are many necessary steps required to attain benefits in a workers' compensation claim. One factor you may have to consider if your initial claim is denied is following your employer’s insurance company mandate for an Independent Medical Exam (IME).
An IME is a medical exam by a medical provider—usually a doctor—picked by the insurance company who will determine the extent of your injuries, what treatments you need, and how your circumstances affect the ability to return to your job. This exam is important to the outcome of your claim, and you want to do what you can to make the exam go smoothly.
How to Prepare for an Independent Medical Exam
Because the doctor works for your employer’s insurance company, it's unlikely he or she will agree with your position on the claim. However, how you present yourself and answer the examiner’s questions will have an impact on his conclusions and your credibility as a witness. Take these steps to prepare for your exam:
- Review your medical history. Be prepared for questions about your medical history. The doctor probably has reviewed your records, including those for any prior injuries to the same area, so be prepared to answer questions about them.
- Review how the accident happened. When discussing how the accident occurred, you want to stick to the facts and be brief. Don't exaggerate the extent of your injuries. It's important that what you tell the doctor conducting the IME is consistent with what you told your physician and any medical care providers at the emergency room if you were treated there. The IME doctor could be looking for inconsistent statements, which would make you seem less credible.
- Know what treatments you have received. Be familiar with your course of treatment and the dates you underwent surgery, had doctor visits, or received physical therapy. Having a general accurate sense of the medical treatments you received will increase your credibility as a witness.
- Be prepared to discuss your pain and limitations. You want to be certain to discuss your current level of pain, limitations in movement, and current symptoms. Before the exam, think about what you've experienced and how to present the circumstances to the doctor in an organized and accurate way.
- Dress appropriately. Use crutches or other assistive aids if they've been prescribed. While you don't need to dress formally, make a good impression by wearing clothing suitable for a business meeting.
- Arrive early. If you're late, the appointment could be cancelled, which could negatively affect your claim.
Your work doesn't stop once you arrive for your IME. Follow these guidelines:
- Be courteous. Remember, the IME is a formality needed to continue approval on your claim.
- Be honest about the extent of your limitations and what jobs you could perform.
- If you've previously suffered an injury in the same area, explain how this injury is different and how long ago you received treatment for the prior condition.
Do you need to attend an independent medical exam? An experienced workers’ compensation attorney can help you prepare for it. To learn more helpful tips and discuss your workers' comp claim, call our office to schedule your free consultation.