Independent medical examination in a workers’ comp case

Missouri employees who file a workers’ compensation claim must navigate a sea of paperwork and technical requirements. At some point after filing, some may receive a notice from the insurer requesting their appearance at an independent medical examination.

Understanding how the IME works can help you begin preparing for this important part of the workers’ comp claim process.

Getting the notice

After you were injured or became aware of a work-related health condition, you likely started seeing a doctor for regular treatments and check-ups. Therefore, you may well be confused when the insurance company wants you to see another doctor for the IME.

Why insurers want you to attend the IME

While not every single claimant receives an IME notice, many do. The reason for this is that insurers typically try to save money. Your doctor may assign you a disability rating, recommend work limitations or prescribe treatments. Based on this assessment, the insurer must pay corresponding benefits. Insurers may try to claim you are not as disabled as your doctor says, that your condition does not relate to your work, or that some prescribed treatments are not medically necessary.

The IME, while it features the word “independent” in its title, is not really all that independent. Insurers tend to use IME results to bolster their claims that you need fewer benefits or none at all.

Claimants must comply with IME notices

Nevertheless, the law does require you to attend the IME once the insurer sends you a notice. If you do not comply, you may lose your workers’ comp benefits.

What should you do if you get an IME letter?

Speak with your attorney as soon as you receive the notice. While there is usually nothing you can do to get out of having to attend, thorough preparation can help you get through it. Your lawyer can explain to you the allowable scope of the IME and what types of examinations or questions would not be appropriate