It is not unusual for your employer or its insurance carrier to require you to have an independent medical examination (IME) after a work-related accident. Especially, if your claim is being disputed.
The goal of this type of IME is not to provide you with treatment for your injuries, but to obtain information that will cast doubt on the nature and extent of your injuries and allow your employer or its workers’ compensation insurance carrier to deny or limit its obligation to pay for your medical treatment.
If an independent medical examination has been ordered by your employer or its workers’ compensation insurance carrier, you must attend this examination or you risk losing your workers’ compensation benefits.
Since you will be examined by a doctor who has been chosen by your employer or its insurance carrier, and the examination (along with the doctor’s testimony) may be used at any subsequent workers’ compensation hearing, here are ten important things to remember:
- Be on time for the appointment – Even though some insurance company doctors overbook and you may be required to wait a considerable amount of time before seeing the doctor, be on time and be patient.
- Do not pay the IME doctor – The doctor will be paid by your employer or its insurance carrier, so do not pay him anything, under any circumstances.
- The IME doctor is not your friend – The doctor who examines you works for the other side. They have not paid him to treat you, advise you, or to assist you with your medical or physical problems.
- Tell the IME doctor everything – Tell the doctor each and every complaint that you have regarding your workers’ compensation claim. Tell the doctor how your injury has affected your life, and if you have been unable to work after the accident, be sure to let him know about it. Do not conceal information regarding previous injuries or illnesses, they will not hurt your workers’ compensation claim.
- Be Polite to the IME doctor – It is possible that you may not like the IME doctor, nonetheless, be polite and let him do his job.
- You have the right to refuse to be tested – If the IME doctor wants to perform some unusual test or one that you are not comfortable undergoing, you have the right to refuse that test. You are not compelled to undergo any embarrassment or pain.
- Remember that the doctor’s report can hurt your case – Even if the IME doctor is friendly and cordial to you, his written report will be strictly business-like and it can hurt your case. Keep in mind that the IME doctor’s function is not to discover how bad you were injured, but how little you were injured.
- Bring a witness to the exam – It is advisable to bring someone to the IME with you––someone who would be available to be a witness at a workers’ compensation hearing. New Jersey law requires the doctor to allow a witness to be present. In many cases, your attorney or a paralegal from his or her office will attend the exam with you.
- Consult with an attorney beforehand – Consult with an attorney two days before the IME to review these suggestions and to discuss any other concerns you may have.
- Write A Report Afterwards – After you have completed the requested IME and you are back at home, write down a full description of what the doctor said to you, what he did, the amount of time the examination took, and your impression of his opinion regarding the nature and severity of your injuries and problem. Finally, send this report to your attorney right away.
Contact a New Jersey Workers Compensation Attorney
If you have been injured in a work-related accident and are having issues receiving the workers’ compensation benefits that you are entitled to receive, contact an experienced New Jersey workers’ compensation attorney.
Your employer and its workers’ compensation insurance carrier will have their own attorney, shouldn’t you have your own attorney as well? A quality workers’ compensation attorney will be committed to fighting for your rights as an injured worker.