Independent Medical Examinations
If you are involved in a personal injury case or a workers’ compensation claim, you may be required to submit to an independent medical examination (IME). An independent medical exam determines the extent of your injuries and your ability to work in the future.
An independent medical examination should be impartial. Unfortunately, some physicians are pro-employer, which could work against you.
Insurance companies use these exams to gain evidence they can use to deny claims. In workers’ compensation claims, insurance providers and employers use IMEs to declare that your medical condition does not prevent you from returning to work.
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Am I Required To Submit To Independent Medical Examinations in Texas?
The insurance company, Division of Workers’ Compensation, or employee may request an IME by a medical professional in a workers’ compensation claim. IMEs can also be used in personal injury cases, but they are more common as part of a workers’ compensation claim.
A designated doctor performs the medical evaluation. The doctor reviews your medical treatment to date, including your medical records and other documents related to your injury. In addition, the designated doctor might perform a physical exam.
Refusing to undergo medical examinations could result in the denial of your workers’ comp claim. However, that does not mean you do not have certain rights during an IME. Your workplace injury lawyer discusses your rights and helps you prepare for the IME.
What Should You Know About Independent Medical Exams?
Before you undergo a medical evaluation by a designated doctor, your lawyer discusses your rights and what you can expect. Things that you should know before an IME include:
- There is no doctor-patient privilege during an IME. Any statements you make to the doctor could be included in the report filed with the DWC and made available to the insurance company.
- In addition to the medical evaluation of your condition, the doctor might also include their observations regarding your mental clarity and physical abilities.
- The doctor will likely begin the examination by asking you about your injury. Reviewing your medical records before attending the IME can help you answer these questions.
- If the doctor asks you how you were injured, be honest. However, do not provide information irrelevant to the injury or exaggerate the circumstances that led to your injury.
- Always be honest about past injuries, accidents, and your medical history. The information should already be included in your medical record because you should have disclosed the information to the doctor treating your injury. Hiding information about your medical history could hurt your case.
- Do not downplay your injuries or symptoms. While you do not want to exaggerate your injury, you also do not want to play the hero and try to prove how much pain you can tolerate without complaining.
- Be prepared to discuss specific symptoms you experienced or are currently experiencing because of your injury. You need to provide a beginning and ending date of symptoms and be able to describe the symptoms in detail.
- Tell the truth and stick to the facts. The doctor will know if you try to exaggerate your symptoms or lie about your medical condition. Lying during an IME may call into question whether you are being honest about your ability to work.
- A doctor might take long pauses to encourage you to keep talking. However, avoid the urge to ramble or provide information unrelated to your injury or treatment.
Above all, try to remain calm. Undergoing an independent medical exam does not mean your workers’ compensation claim will be denied or that you will lose your personal injury case.
However, IMEs should be taken seriously. The designated doctor’s conclusions could significantly impact the direction of your workers’ comp case.
What Is the Purpose of an Independent Medical Examination?
Understanding the purpose of the IME can also help you prepare for the examination. Issues that the designated doctor may address as part of the IME include:
- Your ability to return to work without restrictions
- The type of restrictions you need if your injury prohibits you from performing all required duties at work
- Whether a prior injury, illness, or accident contributed to the cause of your current medical condition
- If you need additional medical testing or treatment for your injuries or condition
- Confirm that the treating physician correctly diagnosed your injury, illness, or medical condition
- Whether the accident at work or working conditions could have resulted in your illness, injury, or medical condition
- The extent of any disabilities or permanent impairments caused by the workplace accident, if any
Generally, the IME provides additional information about your current medical condition and the extent of your injuries. It is also used to clarify issues related to your injury and determine if you are ready to return to work.
Contact Our Houston Personal Injury Lawyers for a Free Consultation
If you sustained an injury because of another party or were hurt on the job, you could be entitled to compensation for your injuries. Call us at (713) 500-5000 to schedule a free case evaluation with one of our Houston injury attorneys at Attorney Brian White Personal Injury Lawyers. We want to help you receive the compensation you deserve.