What is an “Independent Medical Examination” and What Does it Have to Do With My Workers Compensation Benefits?

An independent medical examination (IME) is a medical evaluation performed on an injured worker by a doctor at the request of the employer/insurance company.  It is done to show that a work-related injury no longer exists, that it has decreased in severity, or that the injury isn’t actually work-related.

It is probable that at some point an injured worker receiving workers compensation benefits will be asked to undergo an IME.  Under Pennsylvania Workers Compensation Laws, if you are receiving benefits for a work-related injury your employer/insurer can request you to be examined by a doctor in an attempt to limit or eliminate those benefits.  The employer/insurer is entitled to have the injured worker undergo an IME every 6 months.

If you are requested to attend an IME it is mandatory that you do so.  If you do not attend, without reasonable cause or excuse, your benefits can be denied during the period of your refusal to attend and possibly forfeit your future benefits.

Even though the examination is labeled “Independent”, that title can be misleading. The doctor performing the exam is specifically selected by your employer/insurer. The doctor performing the IME is also significantly compensated for the exam.  Having an IME performed is a big step in their effort to deny or end your benefits.  They are going to select a doctor who is more likely to provide them with their desired results rather than one who has your best interests in mind.

Depending on what opinion the doctor reaches about your injury, the employer/insurer will file a petition to modify, suspend, or terminate your benefits.  However, it is not the doctor’s opinion that will have the ultimate say on what happens to your benefits.  The final say belongs to the Workers Compensation Judge.  You have the opportunity to litigate any allegation that you shouldn’t continue receiving your benefits.

Don’t navigate your way through workers compensation issues on your own.  Make sure you have an experienced workers compensation attorney on your side.  Contact the workers’ compensation lawyers at O’Connor Law for an explanation of your legal rights and a free initial consultation of your workers compensation case.

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