Getting Ready For Your Workers' Comp IME

Posted on: 17 August 2020

When a work-related injury causes you to be out of work for some time, you may be asked to undergo a medical exam to determine the status of your injury. The independent medical exam (IME) comes after you have been recuperating at home for a while. Not all hurt workers have to undergo an IME, so read on to find out more.

Not Your Usual Exam

It's important for hurt workers to understand how an IME differs from other types of medical exams they may have had in the past. The IME:

  • Is performed by a doctor of the workers' compensation insurance company's choosing. This may be a doctor you have never seen before who is not familiar with your case.
  • Is paid for by the workers' compensation insurer. In fact, the doctor works for the insurer.
  • Doctor examines and focuses exclusively on your workplace injury and nothing else.
  • Doctor may order further diagnostic tests but the exam won't result in any treatment. Don't expect to receive advice or a prescription from an IME.
  • Results do not remain confidential. The post-exam report goes directly to the workers' comp insurer.

Why Have An IME?

As long as your work injury is improving and you are on track to return to your job, you probably won't need to undergo an IME. The IME is for workers who are not getting better or that appear to have permanent injuries. This exam also works to flush out those who are well enough to work but seem to be "faking" their symptoms in order to gain benefits.

Tips for Acing the IME

A bit of preparation goes a long way when it comes to a successful IME experience.

  1. Review your history of medical treatments so far so that you can easily answer the doctor's questions.
  2. Don't hesitate to ask a loved one or friend to come with you to the IME. They can help you remember your accident and take notes during the exam.
  3. This is no time to be ashamed of the way the injury has negatively affected your life. If you are still in discomfort, let the doctor know. Use medical terms when possible and be as exact as possible. For example, say that the pain radiates from your back down to your legs and bothers your most of the day, rather than making vague references to having a hurt back all the time.

Take the IME seriously — it might mean that your benefits are in jeopardy. Speak to a workers' compensation lawyer if you suspect that your injury is permanent or you are being denied your benefits.