Independent Medical Examinations And Workers’ Compensation
In Vermont, workers’ compensation laws allow injured employees to see a doctor of their choosing. Your doctor will decide what medical treatment you need, when you can resume work, whether you have a permanent disability, and whether you have reached Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI). However, if there is a dispute with the insurance company about any of these issues, the insurance company or their attorney may ask you to attend an Independent Medical Examination (IME). If this is your first time filing a workers’ compensation claim, you may not understand what an IME is, why exactly insurance companies request these types of exams, and whether you are required to attend this exam. Below, we discuss all this.
What Is an Independent Medical Examination?
An IME is supposed to be an impartial evaluation of your medical condition. An independent medical examination is supposed to resolve questions about your medical condition for the purposes of your workers’ compensation claim. Some of the questions an independent medical examiner is supposed to answer include the following;
- Whether your injury happened the way you said it did
- Whether your treatment is necessary and reasonable
- Whether you suffered a permanent injury
- Whether you should have resumed work
- Whether you have reached Maximum Medical Improvement
However, although IMEs are supposed to be objective assessments, the truth is that when the insurance company chooses the medical examiner, you have a good reason to question the impartiality of the examiner.
Why Do Insurance Companies Request IMEs?
Independent medical examiners are hired by and paid by the insurance company. So they basically work for the insurance company and are not your friend. Often, insurance companies select the same medical examiners repeatedly because those examiners are known to favor employers over employees. The truth is that there is nothing “independent” about an Independent Medical Examination.
Sadly, the main reason insurance companies request IMEs is so that the “independent” medical examiner can create a medical excuse for the insurance company to avoid making payments on a valid claim.
Must You Attend an IME?
According to 21 V.S.A. 655, if you are notified of an Independent Medical Examination, you must attend the examination. You risk being denied your workers’ compensation benefits if you do not attend an IME. However, if the scheduled appointment does not work for you, you can reschedule by contacting the insurance company. And if you cannot attend the IME for some reason, contact the insurance company ASAP to reschedule.
According to Vermont law, an insurer cannot schedule an IME more than two hours from the injured employee’s home. If the location is too far, you should reach out to the insurance company and ask them to find a nearer place.
Preparing for an IME
It is crucial that you prepare for your IME. Although an attorney can provide more in-depth information to help you prepare and handle this exam, the following are a few tips;
- Keep in mind that the doctor is not your friend. Answer questions honestly but stick to the facts. Do not overshare.
- Don’t fake responses
- Be on time and polite
- Don’t exaggerate or lie about your injuries
Contact a Vermont Workers’ Compensation Attorney
Our Vermont workers’ compensation attorney at Sluka Law PLC can help you with your workers’ compensation claim, including assisting you through your IME. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.