Independent Medical Exam: What Is It?

After sustaining an injury in an accident, it is understandable if you feel as if you have been poked and prodded enough to last you a lifetime; however, when it comes to your independent medical examination (IME), for the sake of your personal injury or workers’ compensation case it is essential that you keep this appointment. The results of your IME can help you build a solid personal injury case. When it comes to workers’ compensation, your IME results help determine whether you receive a lump sum of money for your injuries.

What Is An Independent Medical Examination (IME)?

An IME is an examination that is performed by a physician who is alleged to be impartial to the case or insurance claim. Typically, independent medical exams are associated with workers’ compensation; however, they are also used in personal injury cases. The goal is for the IME doctor to provide his or her unbiased medical opinion as to the individual’s current medical condition and future prognosis, as it relates to the injury(ies) sustained.

Preparing to Have an IME

Prior to your appointment, you will meet with your attorney so as to go over what you should expect during your independent medical examination.

10 Tips to Help You During Your IME

1. Dress Appropriately

Avoid wearing clothing that makes it look like you have been out engaging in physical activities that your injury would prevent you from participating in. Even if you are just wearing these clothes to be comfortable, it could raise suspicion.

2. Arrive 30 Minutes Early

Unless paperwork was sent to you ahead of time, you never know how many forms you will need to fill out. If your injuries relate to your head, neck, shoulder, arm or hand, it could take you longer than expected to complete the paperwork at the office.

3. Consider Bringing A Copy of Your Medical History With You

There will be a lot of forms to fill out that ask about your medical history. If you have a relatively long history, consider typing it up and making copies to hand out to your physicians. This is much easier than filling out the paperwork when you have extensive medical information to provide.

Most physicians do not mind placing a copy in your file. The information you need to provide includes current medications — both over the counter and prescription, surgical procedures, ongoing medical conditions (e.g., diabetes, high blood pressure, etc.).

4. Be Honest About Your Injury

You are about to be evaluated for your injury. Answer the questions truthfully, without exaggerating. Doctors can usually tell when patients are lying and if additional test are run, it could reveal that you are not being truthful, which puts your case in jeopardy. If you are untruthful in the hopes of attaining more money, you could actually get less because you damaged your credibility.

5. If You Have Previous Injuries, Be Sure You Know How to Address These

Part of an IME physician’s job is to determine how much the new injury has aggravated any past injuries you have. Be honest with the physician and avoid exaggerating. Tell the doctor about any new symptoms that have started since you sustained the injury for which you are being evaluated. Talk about the limitations, pain and sensations you are experiencing now that you were not having before.

6. If a Treatment is Working, Admit It

Some patients are hesitant to say that they are feeling better or to say a treatment is helping. They are afraid that saying a treatment is helping will damage their case; however, claiming that nothing is helping relieve your pain can actually hurt your case, honesty is always the best policy.

7. Tell the Doctor Everything

Be sure to tell your IME doctor the entire story of your injury. The story should be consistent with the one that was provided in your claim as well as the one that is in your medical records. Any inconsistency could damage your credibility.

8. Tell the Doctor When You Are in Pain, Avoid Exaggeration

Most physicians ask patients to rate their pain on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the highest. Rating your pain a 10 is probably not a good idea, especially because 10 is usually meant for people who feel as if they need to head for the hospital because of the amount of pain they are in. If you do say 10, the physician may think you are either attempting to mislead or you cannot assess your pain level accurately.

9. Do Not Talk About Your Workers’ Compensation or Personal Injury Case

Even if the physician brings up your case, mention that you have hired an attorney and then change the topic. Avoid talking about other parts of your case, if you make negative comments about the other side, you could hurt your case.

10. Stay Positive and Have Goals

Do not present yourself as someone who is in despair or self-pitying, emphasize to the doctor that you are willing to do whatever it takes to get better. In addition, make it clear that you look forward to returning to work. These things will be written in your report, which makes you more likable while it is being read by others.

NH Worker’s Compensation Law

Under RSA 281-A:38 & 39, failure of the employee to attend an independent medical examination (IME) or obstruct that examination shall result in the suspension of your weekly indemnity benefits until the examination has taken place and no compensation shall be payable during and for such period.

The employee can be scheduled to attend no more than two IME’s per year.

The IME must take place within a 50-mile radius of the employee’s home unless approved by the Department of Labor.

The Independent Medical Examination Report

Once the IME is complete, all parties have the right to review the report. In the introductory section, there will be some basic descriptive data as well as a summary of the doctor’s conclusions. The report will also describe the conversation that occurred between the examiner and the patient. The doctor’s findings will be documented (in detail) and the diagnosis/prognosis will be given.

Whenever you are considering filing a personal injury lawsuit, it always pays to talk to an experienced attorney. Your case is much more likely to be successful if you work with an attorney you trust.

Call us today for a free, confidential consultation and case evaluation. Let our experience work for you. 603-647-2600.

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