Can I Refuse an IME?
An employer may request an employee undergo an Independent Medical Exam (IME). There's always a suspicion that the financial relationship between the employer and the doctor may result in unfairness to the injured worker. Have you ever wondered whether you can refuse an IME?
What Is an IME?
According to the Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation, an IME is an objective medical evaluation by an independent medical specialist. The exam seeks to clarify the injured worker's medical and disability status.
Workers must get examined by a doctor after getting injured on the job. The doctor then gives their opinion regarding the degree of injury and the worker's ability to resume duties. This exam determines the payment of benefits to the employee.
The worker goes through three examinations at different times, including:
The worker must be examined after receiving temporary total disability for 90 consecutive days. This exam evaluates the worker's medical condition, how to move forward, or limitations to return to work.
Similar to the 90-day exam, it happens after the worker has received temporary disability for 200 consecutive weeks. The exam re-evaluates the worker's ability to return to work and their current medical situation.
This exam aims at evaluating the percentage of permanent disability of the worker. The exam gives an unbiased estimate of the employee and the allowance to receive.
Workers can dispute the results from the exam to get a second opinion if they believe there are some anomalies.
What Happens During an IME?
Workers are requested to attend an IME not to get a second opinion regarding their injuries. It's intended to help the insurance company to use an expert to determine whether to award or deny workers' compensation insurance.
The exam does not involve any form of medical examination. Even when the doctor recommends some treatment options for the worker's injuries, they are not obliged to use them.
A doctor performing the IME receives relevant medical information about the employee before and receives a letter from the insurance company determining the following:
Whether the employee was diagnosed correctly by a doctor
Whether the injury is work-related
Whether the injury needs medical treatment
Whether the worker has a partial or permanent disability(Is permanent partial disability for life?)
When the employee returns to work
Any medical restrictions on returning to work
What Does the Doctor Look For During an IME?
After reviewing the medical records of the worker and relevant medical records connected to work, the doctor will look for the following:
The doctor watches everything the worker does during the exam, including before and after. They look for differences in walking in the office and outside the premises. The doctor looks for anything they can connect to the work-related injury.
Exaggerating injuries or acting differently in the waiting room and the examination room is a sign of deception the doctor will report to the insurance company. The company can check their social media posts for clues about what the worker does away from work.
Reviews Medical Records
An IME doctor reviews all the employee's medical records to look for any objective signs of injury related to the workplace. The doctor will then evaluate if the employee describes the injuries to match the evidence in the medical reports.
Evaluation of Medical History
The doctor will ask the employee about their medical history, including accidents and injuries before the said work-related injury or afterwards. Other questions may include the workers' lifestyle. The doctor looks for anything that proves the injury isn't as severe as the employee claims.
Can I Refuse an IME?
An employee seeking compensation for work-related injuries can't refuse to attend an IME. If they refuse, the insurance company may file a petition limiting any potential benefits the worker may be entitled to receive. If this happens, you may want to get a work injury lawyer in Columbus OH to represent your claim. The insurer may also request a judge to force the worker to attend.
Making the employee attend an IME allows the insurance company to collect information determining whether to award or deny workers' compensation benefits. Also, learn if you need workman's comp as sole proprietor.
Contact Larrimer & Larrimer Today!
When worried about what may transpire during an IME, it pays to consult Larrimer & Larrimer for legal assistance. Our law firm has professional attorneys experienced in workers' compensation cases to help employees know their rights.