If you are an employee who has been injured at work, it is important that you handle the process properly by reporting the injury right away and seeking medical treatment. In most cases, the employer will choose which medical providers will provide treatment for you. There are some scenarios where an employee might be able to seek treatment from their own primary care doctor or another preferred specialist.
Reporting the claim and seeking medical treatment is just the start of the workers’ compensation process. Much like when you submit a third-party liability claim for a car accident or another personal injury matter, the insurer will conduct a thorough investigation. This will include an in-depth review of your medical records. At some point during the claims process, your employer may likely ask you to submit to an IME, which is an independent medical examination. While the name sounds like it’s truly independent, it is important to keep in mind that the doctor who performs the IME is hired by your employer and/or their insurance company.
What Is an Independent Medical Examination?
The doctor performing the IME will be evaluating your injury and recovery progress. Prior to conducting the in-person exam, the doctor will likely review your medical records. This will include the results of any lab work and diagnostic testing already performed. At the appointment, you will undergo a physical exam while the IME doctor will ask a series of questions regarding how your injuries occurred and what your treatment has been to date. He or she may also recommend other testing and procedures, provided they are not invasive.
After the IME
Once everything is complete, the doctor will prepare a report that addresses a number of different topics. Some of these may include:
- Are the employee’s symptoms related to the work accident?
- Are the employee’s injuries consistent with the type of accident?
- How severe are the employee’s injuries and how much pain are they in?
- What is the degree of the employee’s disability or impairment?
- What are the mental or physical limitations the employee is facing?
- Has the employee reached maximum medical improvement? (This means that the employee is not expected to get any better, even if he or she seeks additional treatment.)
What happens if you don’t agree with the IME results? You have the right to challenge the results if the doctor rendered an opinion based on incorrect information about your medical history, or if the report contained some other mistake of fact.
It’s not uncommon for an IME to actually hurt your claim, as the doctor may not be independent to begin with. If they render an opinion that is favorable to you, they aren’t likely to see future work as an IME doctor from that insurance company. They may conclude your injury isn’t work related or you are well enough to go back to work without any restrictions. This is one of the reasons you should speak with a South Carolina workers’ compensation attorney early on. A skilled workers comp attorney can protect your rights and help prepare you for an IME.
Contact a Skilled Chester Workers’ Compensation Attorney
If you have questions about IMEs or need assistance with a workers’ compensation claim, contact the experienced worker’s compensation attorneys at Elrod Pope Law Firm at 803-599-3080 to schedule a consultation.
Thomas E. Pope is a Personal Injury, Wrongful Death, and Medical Malpractice Attorney who practices in Rock Hill, Lake Wylie, and Lancaster, SC. He graduated from the University of South Carolina School of Law, and has been practicing law for 31 years now. Thomas E. Pope believes in protecting the injured. Learn more about his experience here.