Independent Medical Exam for Auto Workers
If a workers’ compensation insurer has doubts or questions about your medical condition, it may request an independent medical exam (IME). Often insurers ask for IMEs based on disagreement with an auto worker’s treating physician about how to treat a condition or what’s reasonable and necessary in medical treatment. Insurers are usually hoping to save money and turn a substantial profit. Paying for surgery and other expensive treatments can cut into those profits. Generally, the insurer is also leery of permanent disability because it requires more payments over time. Sometimes a workers’ compensation judge may order an IME to resolve an issue that arises in your case. If you have been ordered to go to an independent medical exam as an injured auto worker, a seasoned Chicago workers’ compensation attorney can help you navigate the process.Independent Medical Exam for Auto Workers
An IME should be an objective assessment of your medical condition. It can include an evaluation of whether you are permanently impaired and to what extent, whether you’ll be able to work in the future, and what treatment you need.
When an insurer asks for an IME, it will also choose the doctor who is going to perform the IME. Insurers may not choose an impartial doctor. IME doctors’ business may depend on getting referrals from insurers. Accordingly, they are incentivized to reduce insurers’ costs by minimizing how bad the injury is and your need for potentially expensive medical care.What Happens in Connection With an IME
Before an IME happens, medical records and other relevant documents will be passed along to the IME doctor. That doctor will determine whether to look over the documents before or after the exam. When there’s a heated controversy in a case, the insurer may write to the examining doctor and let the doctor know how you’ve been treated in the past, and ask certain questions, such as whether you’ve been correctly diagnosed, whether your condition was caused by the auto industry accident at issue, whether you’re permanently disabled and to what extent, when you can go back to work, and whether you need more medical care or testing for your condition.
An IME is governed by section 12 of the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act. It is mandatory to go to the IME, and if you don’t attend or arrive too late, your benefits can be suspended until you reschedule the IME and go to it. You are supposed to bring your diagnostic films to your IME. These could include X-rays, CT scans, or MRIs. You are supposed to be reimbursed your mileage or other travel.
It’s important to realize that an insurer or employer can decide to terminate benefits or deny you benefits just based on the IME report’s opinions. When you do the IME, you don’t have the usual doctor-patient relationship you have when you go to see your doctor for treatment. Nothing you say to the IME doctor is privileged or shielded from the insurer’s knowledge. The things you say to the IME doctor can be raised at a workers’ compensation hearing for purposes of making sure you don’t get benefits or to make it seem like you’re not credible.
During the IME, the doctor may ask you about how you were injured in your auto industry job and your relevant medical history. She may ask you about how you’ve been medically treated thus far. She may perform a physical exam and order lab work.
Afterwards, the doctor will write an IME report that includes conclusions and opinions. Some of these may respond in particular to questions raised by the insurer. You and your attorney are supposed to get a copy of the report. You and your attorney may be able to file objections, depose the doctor, or ask for another exam if you dispute statements made in the IME report. It is wise to retain an attorney if you think an IME may be used against you to restrict or terminate your benefits.Consult a Skillful Workers’ Compensation Attorney in Chicago
If you have questions about independent medical exams for auto workers in Chicago, a knowledgeable workers’ compensation lawyer may be able to help you protect your rights. The experienced legal team at Katz, Friedman, Eisenstein, Johnson, Bareck & Bertuca handles injured workers’ claims in Quincy, Aurora, Rockford, and Champaign, as well as Kane, Cook, Winnebago, Sangamon and Adams Counties. Contact us at 800-444-1525 or at 312-263-6330 or by completing our online form.