Often times, I recommend that my Workers' Compensation clients have
an IME, or independent medical examination. You may be wondering if this
would be a good idea for your case. In this article, I'll try to review
the general pros and cons of having an IME to help you decide if this
is something that you think your
Workers' Compensation case could benefit from.
What is an IME?
An IME is a medical examination conducted by someone other than your treating
doctor. It is a fancy way of saying "second opinion". In most
Workers' Compensation cases the doctors who treat you are selected
and paid for by your employer's insurance company. These doctors may
rely on the insurance companies to send them repeat business, so they
may be hesitant to fully treat or evaluate your condition.
The IME is conducted by a doctor selected and compensated by your side
of the case. At my office, it is our practice to pay for the costs up
front so that no money or co-pays have to come out of our client's
pocket. Because of this, sometimes the IME is also called the Claimant's
We begin the process by selecting the most appropriate doctor for our client's
injury. We use specialists in orthopedics, back injuries, brain injury,
plastic surgery, or other fields depending on our client's injury.
Once a doctor is chosen, we will make an appointment for our client, and
submit the relevant medical records
You should consider an IME if your case involves the following:
- Any back or spinal cord injury
- If you have pain that hasn't been treated
- Broken or shattered bone
- A head or brain injury
- A scar or any permanent disfigurement
- Any injury requiring surgery
What is the process of an IME?
A week or two after your examination the physician will prepare a written
report and send it to your attorney's office. You can obtain a copy
from your attorney who will review the report and then, as appropriate,
share it with the insurance company. If a hearing is required in your
case, the report can be provided to the Commissioner, who will be deciding
Every doctor who provides an assessment for Workers' Compensation purposes
should be using the same medical standards (now called the American Medical
Association Guides to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment in the 6th
edition). However, there can be major differences between the ultimate
conclusion of the physician selected and paid for by the insurance company
vs. independent physicians. These results can sometimes call for double
or triple the amount of compensation that you are entitled to.
What are the drawbacks?
First there is the cost. Most physicians will charge between $750-$1,000
for the examination and report. Second sometimes the best medical specialist
to conduct your examination will be located out of town for you, and you
may have to travel for the appointment. You should know though in nearly
every case with serious injuries the benefits of an IME outweigh the drawbacks.