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What Can I Expect during an Independent Medical Exam (IME)?

When you are involved in a workers’ compensation or personal injury claim, the other party will often request additional verification of the claimant’s medical condition. This is typically done by asking the claimant to undergo an independent medical exam (IME), also known in Connecticut and some other states as a respondent medical exam (RME).

An IME/RME is often requested when there is a disagreement between the parties regarding the extent of an injury, or when the claimant’s physician is recommending surgery or another type of medical procedure. Essentially, the respondent is requesting a “second opinion” from a supposedly independent medical examiner.

In most cases, the examiner is likely to be anything but “independent”. Usually the examiner is a person who is selected by the employer or their insurance company and is someone who has performed other exams for them in the past. Just the fact that the parties have a working relationship means that the examiner is at least somewhat incentivized to find in favor of the employer or their insurer, which is likely to cloud their judgment.

How Should I Prepare for an IME/RME?

Knowing that the medical examiner you are going to see is likely to be biased in favor of the other side, you should approach this situation with caution. Remember, the ultimate goal of the other side is to either find a basis to deny your claim outright, diminish the value of your claim, or deny you a medical procedure that you need.

Just because this is an adversarial situation, that does not mean it is reason for panic. Independent medical exams are requested frequently in these types of cases, and with proper preparation, you can successfully clear this hurdle and help bring your claim to a favorable conclusion.

Here are some of the most important steps to take to help get you through your IME/RME:

Prepare Ahead of Time

Before the examination occurs, the respondent will send your medical records and any other documents that are related to your injuries to the medical examiner. The respondent may also write a letter to the examiner posing various questions about your injuries. You should try to obtain a copy of any letter sent to the examiner, so you can review it ahead of time for inaccuracies. If you are working with an attorney, your attorney can handle this for you.

You should also be intimately familiar with your medical history. The examiner will already have this in front of them, including information about previous injuries and medical conditions. Take some time to review your medical records in detail, so you fully understand what the examiner is referring to when you are asked a question about it. Finally, bring some notes along with specific dates, locations of injuries and other important information.

Bring Someone with You to Your Appointment

You should always have someone along with you for your IME/RME appointment.  This way, if there is ever a dispute about what was said or what happened during the exam, you will have a witness to confirm the facts. Ideally, you should have a nurse or other health professional along to accompany you, so they are able to provide more authoritative testimony. But if all else fails, bring a family member or close friend.

Arrive Early

Be sure to allow yourself plenty of travel time to get to the location of your exam. Arriving late could cause you to miss your appointment, which could be detrimental to your claim. Leave for your appointment early and make sure to account for any potential traffic delays.

Stay on Guard

Keep in mind that you are most likely to be under observation from the moment you pull up in the parking lot. Assume that the inside and outside of the building are under video surveillance, and that your every move is being watched carefully.

Be Honest and Cooperative

Always be honest and polite with the examiner, and never exaggerate your symptoms or the extent of your injuries. This is why it is a good idea to thoroughly understand your medical history, so you can give accurate answers to the examiner’s questions. Along these same lines, be courteous and cooperative with the examiner and other staff. There is nothing to be gained by being combative and argumentative in this type of situation.

Take Detailed Notes

After you leave the examiner’s office, write down or record in as much detail as possible what happened during your appointment. Note the questions the examiner asked you, the tests that you were given, what the examiner told you, and other important details. It is best to do this as soon as possible after you leave the office while everything is still fresh in your mind.

Consult your Attorney for Additional Guidance on Preparing for an IME/RME

For more information on what you can expect during an independent medical exam (or respondent medical exam) and how to prepare for it, speak with your attorney (if you have one). Your attorney can give you counsel and advice that is more specific to your claim.

What Is an Independent Medical Exam and How Do I Prepare?

If you are filing a claim for workers’ compensation in the state of Connecticut, there is a strong possibility that you will be asked to submit to an Independent Medical Exam, commonly referred to as IME. These exams, which are also common in personal injury cases, are used to resolve disputes or/and determine a plaintiff’s degree of injury or disability.

While IMEs can be advantageous to a claimant’s case in many situations, it is important to understand the consequences than an IME can have. At the law offices of The APEX Law Firm, LLC, our experienced Connecticut attorneys can help you to prepare for your IME, and understand how to use the results of an IME to improve the outcome of your claim.

What Is an IME?

An Independent Medical Exam is a medical examination that is performed by a (supposedly) neutral, third party medical professional. An IME is almost always requested by a defendant company or insurance party who is being asked to pay for damages for a claimant’s disability.

IMEs are requested when the insurance company/defendant disagrees with the plaintiff’s current claim of level of disability, or wants to verify the extent of injury. IMEs are common in workers’ compensation cases when a permanent disability rating is a possibility.

Who Is the Doctor in an IME Exam?

Something that can be complicated about IMEs is finding a doctor who is truly independent and unbiased. Indeed, IMEs are typically performed by doctors who are selected by the insurance company, and may be chosen based on their tendency to side with the insurance company (in exchange, the doctor may be paid by the insurance company, or receive referrals from the company). If you are hesitant about the doctor who is to perform your IME, you should hire an attorney immediately and hold off on submitting to the exam.

How to Prepare for an Independent Medical Exam

One important thing to keep in mind when undergoing an IME is that the traditional doctor-patient relationship, where information you share with your doctor is private, may not exist. Instead, all information that a doctor collects on you will likely be shared with the insurance company. As such, you need to be careful about what you say, and make sure that you do not reveal anything that you do not want the other party knowing.

In addition to choosing your words carefully, other tips for preparing for an IME include:

  • Review the facts of your case. The doctor will likely ask you details about how your injury occurred, treatment you have received up to this point, and how you are healing. It is important that you stick to the facts and can provide specifics about treatment and your injury. To prepare, look over your medical records and doctor’s notes, and review the timeline of your accident and injuries.
  • Write down questions. Asking the IME doctor questions about your condition, their recommended treatment options, and what you can expect regarding your injuries moving forward can be helpful. So that you’re prepared at the time of your IME and don’t forget anything, be sure to make a list of questions before your appointment.
  • Be honest. One of the worst things that you can do during your IME is to exaggerate or hyperbolize the facts of your case or the degree of pain or disability you are experiencing. You want to tell the doctor how you’re feeling and the extent of your limitations, but you also want to make sure that all these statements are truthful.
  • Call an attorney. As stated above, an IME is not always conducted with a claimant’s best interests in mind, and doctors can, and often are, biased. As such, if you have been asked to submit to an Independent Medical Exam, you should contact an attorney as soon as possible. Your attorney will help you to understand your rights (such as whether submitting to the exam is necessary), and how to prepare for your IME.

We’re Only a Phone Call Away

Our experienced workers’ compensation and personal injury attorneys at The APEX Law Firm, LLC are ready to represent you if you have a claim and have been asked to participate in an IME. To schedule a free consultation with our law offices, please contact us at (860) 900-0900 today, or send us a message using the contact form found on our website.