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Dawson and Rosenthal
Dawson and Rosenthal

What to Know Before an Independent Medical Exam

It is not uncommon for there to be a dispute surrounding a workers’ compensation claim. In some cases, this dispute happens between the injured worker and their employer or the injured worker and the insurance company. As a result of the disputes, you may need to undergo an independent medical exam (IME). Here, we want to discuss what an IME is and how you can prepare for the exam ahead of time. 

What is an Independent Medical Exam?

Anytime there is a dispute about a workplace injury, whether about how the injury occurred, the severity of the injury, or how long it will take a person to recover, the insurance carrier or the employer may work to delay or deny the claim. In these cases, it may be necessary for the claimant to undergo an independent medical exam (IME).

In California, the state workers’ compensation system uses an independent medical review (IMR) process to resolve disputes such as this. The costs of the IMR are paid by the employer. The ultimate goal of the IMR (or IMR) is to resolve any further disputes between the claimant, the employer, and the insurance carrier so that the worker can receive their payment (or result in a claim denial). 

Steps You Can Take to Prepare

There are various steps that injured workers can take to prepare for an independent medical exam.

  1. Dress appropriately and be groomed. Make sure that you dress in a way that does not indicate that you have engaged in any type of vigorous or physical activity (in other words, do not wear gym clothes).
  2. Arrive for the exam early. Make sure you get to the appointment approximately 30 minutes early. Showing up right on time or late could delay the appointment, which could aggravate the doctor.
  3. Know your medical history. You need to have a detailed understanding of your medical history, including information about your current injury. The IME doctor will already have this information, and you need to be on the same playing field.
  4. Be honest and do not exaggerate injuries. You need to be honest about your injuries. Do not exaggerate the severity of the injuries. You also need to let your doctor know about your medical history if they ask. If you conceal pre-existing injuries or exaggerate your current injuries, this will hurt your case.
  5. Be ready to discuss what caused the incident. The doctor will likely ask how the injury occurred, and you need to be ready to give an answer that is consistent with what you already told the insurance carrier and your employer and what has already been discovered through discovery or depositions. Inconsistencies here will damage your credibility.
  6. Do not react in any way to the length of the exam. The exam may not take long, or it may take quite a while. Do not react to the length of the IME. A longer exam does not necessarily mean the doctor is writing a good report, just as a shorter exam does not necessarily mean something bad.

We always suggest working with a skilled work injury lawyer in California if you are experiencing issues with claim delays or denials for your workplace injury. An attorney can help walk you through the process of going through an independent medical review and make sure that you are ready when the time comes.