If you have been collecting workers' comp benefits for some time, you may be asked to undergo a unique type of medical exam. The Independent Medical Exam (IME) allows the workers' comp insurance company to get more information on your medical condition and, more importantly, anticipate when you may be able to return to work. Most work-related injuries heal, given enough time, and the workers are able to return to their jobs. If you have not returned to work in a given amount of time, your injury may be permanent. The exam could signal the end of your benefits or the beginning of a different type of benefits, so read on for more information about the IME.
Why am I being asked to undergo this exam?
The speed at which your injuries are expected to heal and that you should return to work are based on the past history of others with similar injuries. If your injury appears to be taking longer to heal, you may become the subject of a deeper investigation into your medical condition. While being singled out for this exam can feel intimidating, you should take heart and do your best to be prepared for the exam. The fact that an injury is not healing as quickly as it should is no reason to deny you your workers' comp benefits.
What are good tips for the IME?
Since some time may have elapsed since the original injury, take some time to go over your paperwork. Read over the accident report to refresh your memory. The doctor will very likely ask you about the accident event, and staying consistent in your story is vital.
You likely have amassed a great deal of medical records at this point, so take some time to organize it by date and refresh yourself on your treatments, therapies, surgeries, etc. You are allowed to bring any and all paperwork with you into the exam room, and you should refer to it as needed.
This is your opportunity to apprise the doctor of how the injury is still affecting you—not only in your ability to do your job but in your day-to-day life as well. The impact of the injury on you will become a key component of your settlement if your injury is deemed to be permanent. A summary of the effects of the accident and the relation to your job could be very helpful.
What happens after the IME?
The workers' comp insurance agency will review the results of the IME and the doctor's opinion to make a decision shortly. Three outcomes are possible:
- Your injury has healed enough, so you are able to return to work.
- Your injury has not had enough time to heal, so your benefits will continue.
- Your injury will likely not heal any further (maximum medical improvement), so you will be deemed permanently disabled.
Speak to a workers' comp attorney, such as those found at Zavodnick, Perlmutter & Boccia LLC, immediately if you disagree with the ruling or for assistance with ensuring that your settlement is fair and complete.