When you are injured at work and file a rightful Maryland workers’ compensation claim, you may assume that your employer should just take your doctor’s word regarding the nature and severity of your injuries, as well as the treatment that is required for your injuries. However, your employer and its workers’ compensation insurance company may question the costs of treatment for which you have requested coverage. In such situations, they may request that you undergo an independent medical evaluation, commonly called an IME. The following is some basic information about IMEs and how you should proceed.
An independent medical evaluation is an evaluation conducted by a medical professional chosen by your employer or its insurer, with whom you have had no previous patient/doctor relationship. This “independent” medical professional will then provide their opinion on certain matters, including:
- Were any injuries or illnesses accurately diagnosed?
- Was an injury or illness caused by workplace accidents or conditions?
- What is the full extent of your injury-related impairments
- Does your condition require additional testing or treatment? If so, what is the nature of those tests or treatments?
- Does your condition restrict your ability to work and how much?
- What is a realistic timeline for your to return to work?
If answers to these questions conflict with your own doctor’s reports, your employer can base your benefits on the IME results and provide fewer benefits than you initially claimed.
Preparing for an IME
There are certain steps you can take to prepare for an IME to increase your chances of accurate medical findings that support your claims. The following are some important things to remember before an IME:
Go over the details of the accident or other condition that caused your condition. You want to make sure all information provided is consistent with details previously provided.
Know your medical history. The independent doctor will not only ask about your most recent diagnosis but also previously diagnosed injuries to determine whether you had a pre-existing condition.
Be fully prepared to describe all of your symptoms. You shouldn’t hesitate to consider your symptoms when the doctor asks—instead, you should be confident about pain levels, limitations, and other effects of your injuries on your work, sleep, and other life activities.
Leave in plenty of time for your appointment and plan to arrive early. If you miss an IME appointment, your workers’ compensation benefits may be suspended or denied.
During Your IME
You may be tempted to exaggerate your symptoms in order to prove the extent of your injuries, though you should never do so. If the independent medical professional suspects any exaggerations, the credibility of your entire claim can come into question. Doctors can perform tests to determine appropriate levels of pain and restrictions for a particular injury and will report whether they suspect you are exaggerating. This can be seen as an attempt to miss extra work or receive additional benefits and your claim may be in jeopardy.
How a Maryland Workers’ Compensation Attorney Can Help You
Having the guidance and assistance of an experienced Maryland workers’ comp lawyer throughout the process can often increase your chances of having a positive IME and receiving full benefits. For a free case evaluation with Alpert Schreyer, LLC, please contact us online or call (844) 632-7274 today.