Independent Medical Examinations are frequent in workers compensation cases in Pennsylvania. Just a few quick words about an IME. First, they are not ‘independent’ exams. These are exams scheduled by the workers’ compensation insurance carrier, with a doctor they choose, and scheduled most often for very specific reasons. Those reasons may include attempt to get a full recovery opinion, to deny medical treatment, or to return the injured worker back to work. You can read more about IMEs right here.
When you are scheduled for an IME, it is important to NOT do certain things. Here is a list of SEVEN DO NOTS when attending an IME.
Discuss Settlement of Case Value
Do not discuss the potential to settle your case, that you may be in discussions to settle your case, or what you believe to be the value of your case. Do not discuss settlement or value at all. First, the doctor does not care about settlement or your perceived value. Second, the doctor will record that in the IME report in an attempt to make it look like you are only in the case for the money.
Guess When Answering Questions
Sometimes, IMEs happen months or maybe even a year or two after the actual date of injury. Details can become foggy. However, remember that the IME doctor is going to include in his report things you say. Therefore, you do not want to offer information you are unsure of, because that information may be conflicting with what you may have said prior or even testified to before the Judge or Commission. It gives the appearance of that you are a ‘poor historian’, which is another way of saying you are a liar.
Do not make your symptoms worse than they are. Do not moan, groan, wince, and cry. Do not overstate your pain symptoms. The doctor will note symptom exaggeration in the report. Additionally, and you will not even know it, but the IME doctor will be performing certain tests to determine if your symptoms are consistent with the injury. Many IME reports reflect some symptom exaggeration. Just be truthful and honest.
Talking About Your Employer
Many injured workers are angry at their employer. They may be angry with the way they have been treated, with denying their claim, with refusing medical treatment, or with the decision to not pay wage loss benefits. This gives the temptation to ‘spill’ the anger to the IME doctor. Do not do it. Keep your opinions about your employer out of the IME exam. It has no place and will serve no purpose. It will also make it back to your employer.
Be sure to describe and explain how the work injury occurred. Be sure to explain what you were doing at the time and where the pain was felt at the time. Be sure to explain how symptoms have changed since the original injury. Withholding information because you think it may be damaging to your case will only negatively impact your case. The employer and workers’ compensation carrier know the details of your case. They have relayed that via letter to the IME doctor. Just be transparent, truthful, and honest.
Prior Injuries or Treatment
The IME doctor will be provided medical records regarding your injury and any medical records from prior to the injury that relate to the same body part. Denying past injuries and treatment is a recipe for disaster. Remember, that pre-existing conditions or injuries are NOT a bar to workers compensation benefits. But, failure to disclose pre-existing conditions could critically impair your case. If you have prior treatment or injury, tell the doctor. Explain the difference in the symptoms. Explain the last time you treated for that body part, prior to the work injury.
Outsmarting the Doctor
Do not try and outsmart the doctor about your medical condition. The doctor went to medical school, is a practicing doctor, and Board Certified. You are not. Trying to use complex terminology and disagreeing with the doctor about this or that regarding your medical condition will not be productive. The doctor will not be impressed with you diagnosing yourself or using medical jargon. Just explain your symptoms and undergo the examination. Leave it at that. Additionally, do not try and convince the doctor you were injured at work or that you have this particular medical condition. You are not there to convince the doctor of anything. Nor will you be able to.
A final word. It is important that you seek experienced legal counsel if you receive notice of the scheduling of an IME. It is the beginning of hostile action against your rights and benefits. Call Mooney Law today for an absolutely free consultation about your case. We have represented hundreds of injured workers in Pennsylvania and Maryland and have recovered tens f millions of dollars in benefits. We are experienced litigators, proven attorneys and trusted legal counsel. Call today at 833-MOONEYLAW or 717-200-HELP for a free consultation. You can also visit my firm online at Mooney4Law.com.