If you are injured during the normal course of your day due to the negligence of another party, you may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit to be compensated for your losses.
Experiencing an injury on the job brings a different and sometimes more limited compensation. If your employer has four or more employees, they must carry workers’ compensation insurance.
You can seek compensation under this insurance, but in return, you cannot file a personal injury claim against the at-fault party who caused your injury. Under workers’ comp, you may be able to obtain two-thirds of your salary while you recuperate.
Whether you are injured on the job or by the negligence of others, at some point during your recuperation, you may be required to undergo an Independent Medical Exam (IME).
Your Independent Medical Exam
If you have filed a workers’ compensation claim with your employer, you may be asked to undergo an Independent Medical Exam (IME). This is conducted by a non-treating doctor who is a stranger to you and who is not related to your treatment.
The IME is conducted when liability is an issue and to verify that you are really injured or whether you can return to the workplace.
The exam may settle any disputes between your treating doctor and the insurance carrier for your employer concerning your readiness to work and whether your condition is even work-related.
In a personal injury claim, the IME will determine the extent of your injuries, which the defendant is generally trying to disprove.
It is advised that you have your own physician present as a witness and to review the medical records the IME doctor received. He will issue a report which should also be reviewed by you and your doctor for accuracy.
Do not make the mistake of assuming the IME doctor will be a neutral party. If he has been chosen and paid for by the insurance company, that may have some bearing on his conclusions.
An insurance company-hired doctor will want to lower the costs the insurer is responsible to pay, therefore may minimize your injuries.
This is a very important time during your workers’ compensation or personal injury claim to seek the representation of an experienced attorney who understands how to best present your claim and protect your interests.
Preparing for an IME
The best thing you can do to personally prepare for the IME is to follow your doctors’ orders. Get enough rest, follow the course of treatment, take the medication, do not skip doctor or therapy sessions, and do not jump back into the gym too soon.
The IME doctor should have copies of your medical records and documents related to your case and have information on the course of treatment so far.
The IME physician may write down everything you say, so be careful. There is no confidentiality with this individual and everything may be shared with your employer or with the defendant’s insurance carrier. It is also best to bring a witness to your IME exam.
The IME doctor will examine you and determine the extent of your injuries, how you have healed, and what further is needed to improve your medical condition, preferably back to 100%. He will issue a report on his conclusions.
If you cannot return to work, he will determine if you are disabled and to what extent and whether the condition is permanent.
This information will be shared with the insurance company for the defendant, in a personal injury case or with your employer’s carrier in the case of workers’ compensation.
You and your doctor will review the findings and should challenge in writing anything that your treating physician does not find to be true, because the judge in your case will often see the IME doctor as the “expert” and give his conclusions added weight.
If the report’s conclusions vary widely from your treating doctor, the court may determine that another physician should be brought in to conduct a second IME.
If you have been asked to submit to an IME, you should consult with a workers’ compensation or personal injury attorney right away. Contact Burge & Burge at 205-251-9000 to ensure that your rights and interests are fully protected.