The questions I get from clients and potential clients are — what is an Independent Medical Examination, otherwise known as an IME, and must I attend the examination?
First, what is an IME examination? In workers compensation litigation, both the Claimant and the Employer are provided an opportunity to litigate, or “put on”, their case. Many cases revolve around medical issues, such as, whether there is a casual relationship between the injury and what you testified to about how you became injured, whether a pre-existing condition existed and whether that condition was aggravated, extent of the injury, the description of the injury, and whether your injury is a disabling injury, meaning, you can’t work because of the injury. This certainly is not an all-inclusive list of what your doctor may be asked to testify about, but they are common issues in medical testimony.
To refute our evidence, your employer/insurance carrier have a right to have you examined by a doctor of their choosing. This examination is an independent medical examination. Is it truly an ‘independent’ examination? No, of course not. Is there bias involved in this examination? Of course. There may even be bias involved with your doctor. It’s a reality. Many clients are confused at how a doctor can form an opinion based on one, limited examination. However, that is the Defendant’s opportunity to provide medical evidence to support their position in your case.
Now, the second question . . . must I attend the IME examination? Yes, you must. If you choose not to, your employer/insurance carrier will file a Petition with a Workers Compensation Judge to Compel your attendance. If you choose not to attend after that, your wage loss benefits will be suspended by the Judge. It is important you attend. If the IME examination is far in distance or you are unable to drive, the insurance carrier is required to provide transportation. Therefore, lack of transportation is not an excuse. The insurance carrier is entitled to an IME examination every six months.
On a side note, if you are not in litigation, you have an accepted work injury, and are getting paid weekly wage loss benefits, but receive a notification of an Independent Medical Examination, you should contact my office right away. An IME examination may very well be the precursor to the insurance carrier taking hostile action to try and modify, suspend, or terminate your benefits. You should seek legal advice right away. Our firm has offices in many locations throughout Central Pennsylvania and can meet with you FOR FREE at the office location nearest to you. The consultation costs you NOTHING. You can email me direct at firstname.lastname@example.org or call our office at 1-877-632-4656 to speak with me or schedule an appointment.