Got an IME? It's NOT "Independent."

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Got an IME? It's NOT "Independent."

Navigating the Independent Medical Examination (IME) Process: A Guide for New York Workers

An Independent Medical Examination, or IME, is anything but independent. If you're asked to attend one, it's essential to understand that the doctor examining you is hired by the insurance company. Their goal? To save money by denying or reducing your claim.

What is an IME?

Your employer’s workers comp insurance company has the right to send you to a doctor of their choosing for a medical examination. This is almost always done in every case, often more than once. On the surface, these exams provide medical proof to justify your claim and the treatment you receive. However, the real purpose is usually to find reasons to deny or minimize your treatment and cut your benefits off as soon as possible.

Why Are IMEs Conducted?

IMEs can be scheduled at various stages of your case:

  • At the start of your case: To dispute whether your injury is work-related.
  • After some recovery time: To dispute the severity of your ongoing condition or permanent disability.
  • After your doctor requests treatment or surgery authorization: To force cheaper treatment or deny it altogether.

Attending Your IME: Why You Must Go

Skipping an IME is not an option. Failing to attend can result in your treatment and benefits being denied. The insurance company will schedule the appointment at a reasonable time and location. If inconvenient, rescheduling is acceptable, but don’t abuse this.

Preparing for Your IME

Before attending, speak with your doctor and your workers comp lawyer. They will help you prepare and provide instructions based on the type of exam you’re attending. Bring someone with you if permitted and consider recording the exam after notifying the doctor in advance.

During the IME: What to Expect

The exam usually lasts about 10 minutes. Be polite and respectful, and provide the doctor with detailed information about your injury and how the accident happened. Mention all injuries, even those that seem insignificant or have improved. If the doctor asks you to move an injured body part, explain what causes pain and avoid any movement that worsens your injury. Also, inform them of any medications that may affect your movement.

After the IME: Reviewing the Report

You have the right to a copy of the medical report within 10 days. Review it carefully and note any discrepancies. For instance, if the report states that you performed a leg raise test you didn't do or claims you climbed on and off the examination table without assistance when you actually needed help, make a note of these errors. These notes are crucial for your lawyer during cross-examination.

A Lawyer’s Tips for IMEs

Despite the IME doctor’s bias towards the insurance company, you can use the examination to your advantage:

  • Show cooperation: Attend the examination and be respectful.
  • Document inconsistencies: Use the doctor's errors to challenge the validity of their conclusions.

Protecting Your Case

  • Note the time: Record the time you arrived and left the appointment.
  • Be cautious with the questionnaire: Fill out only the basic information and consult your lawyer for the rest. Do not disclose unnecessary details about your ability to work.
  • List prior accidents or injuries: Prevent fraud accusations by disclosing any previous related injuries or claims.

The Importance of a Workers Compensation Lawyer

A knowledgeable lawyer is invaluable. They understand the nuances of workers comp claims and can represent you effectively in court, ensuring the judge sides with you over the insurance company’s IME doctors.

If you’ve been injured on the job in New York and need assistance, call 212-406-8989 for a free consultation. Together, we can secure the treatment and benefits you deserve.

For more tips, be sure to subscribe to my channel and check out my video on choosing the right doctor. The wrong doctor can ruin your workers comp case, so make sure you’re well-informed.

Watch the video about choosing the right doctor here.

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