If you incur an injury at work, you would likely make a worker’s compensation claim. If your company disputes your claim, they will ask you to undergo independent medical exams. But are these objective and fair? Can you expect them to give you an equal treatment that can help your dispute?
The Truth About Independent Medical Exams
Here’s the truth about independent medical exams or IME: they are not fair. Many IME’s have a bias towards the insurance industry who are employing them.
Insurance companies pay an IME a good percentage of their income every year to do one-time exams. Many of these physicians are even on lists created by insurance companies for adjusters so they can look for reasons to deny your claim and claim you are not hurt. These exams are usually required in workers comp and oftentimes after vehicle accidents.
What Does an IME Doctor Do?
An independent medical exam doctor is on the payroll of an insurance company to conduct a one-time medical exam. They’re there to report and look for potential injuries to you and your family.
The process should be fair, and most insurance companies call these “independent.” There is nothing fair or independent about these medical practitioners most of the time.
Why? It’s a simple case of financial interest for the doctor and their practice.
Most IME doctors receive surprisingly large amounts of cash every year to do these exams. Their reports will then work as evidence to help suspend your payments and deny your claims.
What Insurers Will Do
When people are hurt while performing duties at work, insurance in Michigan is required to pay workers’ compensation benefits to victims. These payouts will go towards medical treatment related to the accident necessary for recovering and rehabilitating.
An insurance agency must also pay lost wages if a work accident disables them. If they didn’t return to work, insurance would need to pay for whatever they lost.
After someone receives a work injury, it’s only a matter of how long before the insurance starts independent medical examinations. These exams sometimes referred to as “2nd opinion exams” will be required by law to “submit” to appropriate examinations.
MCL 500.3151(1) of the Insurance Code of 1956 states that “if the mental or physical condition of a person is material to a claim that has been or may be made for past or future personal protection insurance benefits, at the request of an insurer the person shall submit to mental or physical examination by physicians.”
Most of the time, insurers will select and handpick the physicians for their benefit. The exams will last between 15 and 30 minutes and will involve asking several questions. They’re also not thorough with their checks and will usually stick to doing basic physical examinations.
IME Physicians Serve No Medical Purpose
Note that many of these physicians serve no medical purpose. They don’t do diagnosis or treatment, or provide protection for the person who is receiving examinations.
Their purpose is to find evidence for the insurance adjuster that can help them reduce, cut off, suspend, or deny your claims. They are not independent.
IME doctors are not people that the accident victims pick. They receive questions to ask and areas to focus on to help the insurance company find ways to pay you less.
So, what can you do? If the law requires you to submit to a doctor’s exam, how can you work it out to your advantage?
What Can I Do to Protect Myself?
Protect yourself from IME doctors that could use ambush tricks on you. One crucial move is to hire an experienced personal injury lawyer who will detail everything you can do to protect your claims.
First, they will notify the insurance in advance that you will not undergo tricks like lengthy questionnaires. Any questionnaires that clients fill out would need to go to a veteran attorney first.
Your attorney will review the questions and answer them with you. Having an experienced attorney to guide you through the hoops can help you protect your rights. They will help you answer questions relevant to the accident, including pain levels and treatments taken.
If you’re alone, never volunteer information. Be pleasant, polite, and honest to your IME doctor. Be cooperative, but be brief. Do not be chatty, and never discuss the terms of your potential claims.
Have You Dealt with an Unfair IME Doctor? Talk to an Experienced Personal Injury Lawyer.
IME doctors are not fair – they will do their best to cut you off your claims. They will work against you and your best interests.
If you were injured at work, and you think your IME doctor had not been fair or honest, talk to a personal injury attorney today. Consult with an experienced lawyer today and see how you can protect yourself and what is rightfully yours.