Although all Florida employers are required to carry worker’s compensation insurance, gaining full access to the benefits that you are entitled to can still be an arduous process. Part of that process is the Independent Medical Exam, more commonly known as an IME. After filing a claim, you will be asked to submit to a physical examination by a doctor who has been approved by your employer’s insurance company. An IME doctor will not treat you for your injuries. His only role is to verify whether your injury is work-related, determine its severity and recommend a treatment plan.
More often than not, the IME’s opinion will, perhaps unsurprisingly, favor the insurance company. And if you disagree with that doctor’s findings, you only have one opportunity to seek a second opinion. The opportunities to make sure your condition is accurately diagnosed are limited. Here are some tips to make sure you get an accurate, favorable result from your IME.
- Prepare beforehand. Write down the entire history of your injury. If your condition has developed over time, when did you first start experiencing symptoms? What aggravates your injuries? What treatment have you already received? Afterwards, your attorney can compare your statement to the IME’s diagnosis.
- Provide the doctor with a thorough history of symptoms and medical treatments that you have already received for your condition
- Don’t go into your appointment with a poor attitude. Be polite and on time. Remember that you are going to be under constant observation by the Independent Medical Examiner, so behave accordingly.
- Bring an advocate who can thoroughly document your exam. Since this evident might be used in court, it’s especially important to document the IME’s findings so that your attorney can be prepared should a disagreement arise. Your attorney will want to know exactly what the IME said in order to best prepare your case.
- The following advice is applicable in almost any legal situation: Do not sign anything without your attorney’s permission! Also, do not discuss any aspects of your case.
- Describe the severity of your injuries as accurately as possible. Most IME’s can easily spot a patient who is exaggerating his/her injuries. Any indications of dishonesty could be damaging to your case. At the same time, be vocal if you are experiencing any pain during the examination.
- If you did not have an advocate to take notes during your appointment, spend some time at home writing down exactly what the IME said. This will also be helpful to your attorney.
The Independent Medical Exam isn’t necessarily something to be afraid of, but you should walk in knowing what to expect and how to best represent yourself. And as always, contact an experienced attorney if you have any further questions.