The vast majority of workplace injury claims result in the victim recovering the compensation they need, but that is not always the case. For claims that are not so straightforward, an independent medical examination (IME) may become necessary. These are usually scheduled when the workers’ compensation claim is disputed by one or more parties involved.
Defining the Scope of an Independent Medical Exam
An independent medical examination is a medical evaluation performed by a doctor on a patient. When an IME occurs, the doctor involved will be one who has not previously seen the patient. The IME doctor will examine the medical records and prior treatment of the patient, as well as their current condition. IMEs are not always performed by doctors. They can be performed by psychologists or medical professionals in most other medical disciplines, depending on the purpose of the exam and the injuries.
An independent medical examination does not mean that there is a traditional doctor-patient relationship involved. The nature of these examinations is to provide an unbiased opinion about the condition of the patient in question. However, that does not mean that these examinations are always unbiased.
Why Did Your Lawyer Schedule an IME?
If your Philadelphia personal injury lawyer has recommended that you participate in an IME, then this means the employer or the workers’ compensation insurance carrier wants to verify, clarify, or dispute information related to the claim. The role of an independent medical examination in Pennsylvania is to do the following:
- Determine the nature and extent of the injury
- Answer questions about how the injury occurred
- Explain the expected severity and time frame of the disability
- Look for information about the course of treatment
- Examine the expected outlook and ability to return to work
- Clarify any necessary work restrictions
An IME can have a major impact on a workers’ compensation claim. The medical professional who performs the evaluation will submit a report to the insurance carrier detailing their findings.
Should You Be Worried About the Outcome?
If you have been asked to sit for an IME by your attorney or the other parties involved, we encourage you to gain as much knowledge about the process as possible. Speak to your Philadelphia workers’ compensation lawyer about why you are being asked to go through this examination and what they think it will mean for the outcome of your case.
Workers’ compensation claims can be challenging, particularly if an employer or insurance carrier disputes some of the facts or denies the case altogether. When you have an attorney by your side, this means you have an advocate ready to stand up for your rights throughout this process. Your lawyer will not want you to worry about the outcome of an IME, but they understand this is a stressful process for you and your family, especially when you need benefits after a workplace injury.
Can You Dispute The IME Findings?
You and your attorney should obtain a copy of the IME report submitted to the insurance carrier. If you or your lawyer find an error or disagree with the medical professional, your attorney can take steps immediately to request another IME to dispute the report.