After you file a workers’ compensation claim, you will likely be asked to attend an independent medical examination (IME) with a doctor who is not your treating physician. This exam can have a major impact on your ability to receive workers’ compensation benefits and, therefore, it is important to properly prepare for it.
We have provided a list of tips below that should help you prepare for your IME, which can help your workers’ compensation case in the long run:
- Find out what the insurance company told and asked the IME physician: Your employer’s insurance company might write a letter to the IME doctor, which might sum up your injury or illness as well as the treatment you already received. Ultimately, this letter will frame the issues that the IME doctor will address, so it would be a good idea to review this letter beforehand in order to correct any mistakes regarding the facts about your case and to ensure the questions you are asked are appropriate. Make your request for this letter in writing and be sure to file a copy with the office of the state workers’ compensation agency where your claim was filed.
- Be familiar with your medical records: It is likely that the IME doctor will possess all of your relevant medical records, including those regarding previous injuries to the same body part that was affected by your workplace injury or illness. The doctor will ask you about these injuries or conditions, so make sure you review your medical records to refresh your memory and are prepared to discuss them. Additionally, you should never attempt to conceal or downplay previous injuries. Instead, point out how your current condition differs from what it was in the past as a result of your workplace injury.
- Review how the accident occurred: The IME doctor will also ask, in detail, how the injury occurred. This is not an attempt to prove that you were at-fault for the accident. The workers’ compensation system is not fault-based, so even if you were to blame for its occurrence, you have nothing to fear. This question is designed to determine if the injury was, in fact, caused by the workplace accident or if you sustained it outside of work. Try to keep your answers concise and consistent with what you previously reported. Even the slightest change in your story can be used against you.
- Be familiar with the treatment you are receiving: During your IME appointment, the doctor will likely ask about your treatment history for your work-related injury, so make sure you prepare by reviewing your notes and records regarding any tests, surgeries, treatment, or medication you have taken for your injury. This is not an exam for your memory, so you do not need to recall specific dates. However, you should have a general knowledge of your treatment about when you received it.
- Review your symptoms: You should also be able to inform the IME doctor of any symptoms you are still experiencing. If you are experiencing, pain, headaches, difficulties performing certain tasks, or any other limitations associated with your injury, be sure to let the doctor know about them, even if it seems minor.
- Dress appropriately: Do not wear something that is not consistent with the injury you suffered. This is not the time to pretend everything is alright by forcing your injured foot into a high-heeled shoe. If you need an assistive device, such as crutches or a sling, make sure you wear those as well. Not doing so can potentially damage your credibility.
- Arrive early: Missing your appointment can lead to some consequences, possibly even the suspension of your benefits. Be sure to give yourself ample amounts of time to get to your IME appointment.
- Bring a friend: You do not have to go to your appointment alone, so plan to bring a trusted friend or relative with you. Their job will be to take notes, provide moral support, and act as a witness. However, he or she should not speak during the exam.
Experienced Workers’ Compensation Attorneys in Sacramento
If you were injured at work, or while performing your job duties, you need to hire a skilled workers’ compensation attorney to ensure you are able to obtain the benefits to which you are entitled. At Smolich & Smolich in Sacramento, our knowledgeable team of workers’ compensation attorneys is dedicated to providing exceptional representation to those who have sustained injuries in the workplace.
Get started on your workers’ compensation claim today and reach out to our law firm at (888) 452-0703 to request your free initial case evaluation. If we cannot win your case, you will not owe us any legal fees!