The Independent Medical Exam (IME) is often used by an insurance company to limit or deny workers compensation payments.
Nonetheless, because the insurer has a statutory right to request an IME, worker attendance at this medical exam is usually mandatory. State law in Minnesota says, “The injured employee must submit to examination by the employer’s position if requested by the employer, and at reasonable times thereafter upon the employer’s request.”
Failure to attend a scheduled IME other than for an emergency or significant illness could risk a discontinuation of benefits. In such cases, the insurer will often argue that you have not cooperated and they will attempt to discontinue some or all of your benefits.
Since many workers comp cases involve orthopedic injuries, like neck, back, joint and bone injuries, the IME physician is often an orthopedic surgeon. When other kinds of injuries are involved, the insurance company will typically select a specialist relevant to the injury.
IME Exam Details
The IME is not a medical exam in the typical sense. There is no confidential doctor-patient relationship established. The physician does not recommend any type of treatment for an injury. The sole purpose of an IME exam is for the insurance company to get another medical opinion about the nature, cause and extent of one’s injury.
For most IME exams, a worker should appear about 20 minutes before the exam to provide a personal medical history and to note injury symptoms. Immediately after the exam, make notes about everything that transpired, including the number of minutes the physician actually spent with you. It is often helpful to note what areas the doctor touched and whether the doctor asked you to lift your legs in certain ways or touch your toes.
A workers compensation attorney can challenge the findings of the IME doctor. It is often possible to obtain a report from one’s regular attending physician to contradict or to discredit the findings of the IME doctor.
IME Objectivity Questioned
The objectivity of IME physicians is often called into question. Some such physicians rely on workers compensation insurance companies for a large part of their income. Sometimes, IME physicians do a great deal of work with only one or two insurers. They know the result that the insurer wants to minimize benefit payments.
Some even refer to IMEs as “adverse medical examinations,’ because their findings routinely contradict those of the worker’s personal physician and/or surgeon.
One common result is for the IME doctor to claim the injury was not work-related. The insurer can then use this information to discontinue benefits. The IME physician may assert that you received unnecessary treatments, which might lead the insurer to deny payment of medical expenses. Finally, temporary benefits could be discontinued if the doctor claims you have already reached the maximum medical improvement possible.
The insurance company’s goal is simple to pay as little as possible in order to enhance company profits. Regardless of one’s view of Minnesota’s workers compensation system, IMEs are a part of it, and workers must typically comply with IME requests to preserve and protect their benefits.
Consult With an Minnesota Workers’ Compensation Attorney
Although it is often difficult for workers to remain calm during the IME process, it is often best to simply stay focused on maintaining and maximizing your benefits. An attorney active in the workers compensation area can often guide a worker through the process in as stress-free a manner as possible.
If you’ve received an IME request from an insurer, it is possible for you to consult with us about the matter. This visit will help you determine whether you feel you need a lawyer to represent you. When you do hire a workers comp attorney, there is no upfront expense. A workers comp attorney is paid only when the worker wins. To learn more about our legal services please contact us.
Contact A Mankato Workers' Compensation Lawyer Today
Contact the law office of Chesley, Harvey & Carpenter today at (507) 625-3000 for a free case review. We are located in Mankato, Minnesota.