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An independent medical examination (IME) is a medical exam that is used to resolve questions about your medical condition, including what treatment is necessary and the degree of your permanent impairment, should any such impairment exist. An IME is requested most frequently by the insurance company when there is a question about the treatment you need or what permanent disability rating should be attributed to you from your injury. In certain situations, the judge or hearing officer assigned to your case may also order an IME to resolve a disputed issue related to your case.
An IME is supposed to be an objective assessment of your medical condition, including a determination of what, if any, treatment is required, whether you have a permanent impairment, the degree of the permanent impairment, and your ability to work on a go-forward basis. Whether your IME is fair and objective, however, may depend on how the IME doctor is selected and who selects the doctor.
An IME is most frequently requested by the insurance company because it disagrees with:
- your course of treatment, or
- your permanent disability rating, as determined by your treating doctor (the one who regularly treats you for your work related injury).
In such case, the IME is usually performed by an insurance company selected doctor. Such doctors are paid by worker’s compensation carrier and often gain future business from the same referring insurance companies. Therefore, the IME doctors are financially incented to lessen your injury thereby likely lowering any eventual your workers’ comp award. Obviously, any alleged “independence” of these doctors should be questioned.
In such circumstances, with the help of one of the workers’ compensation attorneys at LeavenLaw, you should request a medical examination when you disagree with your treating doctor’s opinions. In this situation, you can usually select the doctor who will perform the examination. Additionally, it must be paid for by the insurance company. This is your One-Time Change in Physician.