Frequently Asked Questions about IMEs
When someone is injured at work and decides to pursue a workers’ compensation claim, they may be prompted by the insurance company or employer to obtain an independent medical evaluation or IME. In simplest terms, this is a physical evaluation performed by a medical professional on behalf of the insurer or another party to assess the extent of one’s injuries accurately. Many insurers will use IMEs to determine the appropriate compensation to pay out.
If told to have an IME, it’s natural for workers to have many questions about its validity and the effect it can have on their case. Here are some of the most frequently asked questions and answers workers should know.
Am I Required to Get an IME?
Under Illinois law, an injured employee must receive an independent medical evaluation if their employer's insurance company requests it. If they choose not to do so, it may result in their benefits being delayed until an IME is complete.
Can I Choose My Own Doctor?
The insurance company has the authority to select the doctor that performs the IME. However, the employee can try to have a say in who evaluates them. If they have a regular treating physician they trust, they may be able to request that they be the ones to perform the IME. However, the insurance company is not obligated to agree to this.
It's also important to remember that the doctor chosen may be located anywhere in the state. While the insurer must accommodate travel expenses, it may mean blocking out a schedule, potentially affecting physical therapy, work hours, or other circumstances.
What Will It Cost Me?
Fortunately, the cost of the IME is the responsibility of the employer who requested it, including the doctor's fees, lost wages, and any travel expenses you may have incurred.
What If I Don’t Agree With The Results of the IME?
Just because an IME was requested by the employer does not mean that an employee will necessarily agree with its findings. Often, the opinion of the IME doctor can differ greatly from that of the employee's treating physician. That being said, it is still important to attend and be honest during the evaluation as any discrepancies discovered could be used against the case later on.
What Should I Bring to My IME?
When heading to an IME, the employee must be well-prepared. This includes bringing along any and all pertinent medical records. This may include x-rays, MRIs, physicians’ notes, or anything else that has been used to document their injuries.
The employee should also consider what they will wear. Many times, the doctor will ask them to remove bulkier clothing for diagnostics or so that they can get a better look at the extent of the injuries. It’s important to dress in clothing that will allow for this but will also not accentuate injuries.
What Should I Expect During My IME?
During the IME, the doctor will likely ask many questions about how the injury occurred, the employee's current pain levels, and their medical history. They will also likely perform a physical examination. This may include testing range of motion, reflexes, and strength. The doctor may also take X-rays or request other diagnostic tests.
The IME will typically last between 30 minutes to an hour but could be shorter or longer depending on the extent of the employee's injuries.
What Happens After My IME?
Once the IME is complete, the doctor will write up a report detailing their findings. This will be sent to the employer who requested it as well as the employee's attorney. It is important to have an experienced workers’ compensation attorney review this report as soon as possible as it could significantly impact the case.
Chicago Workers’ Compensation Attorneys
Whether you’ve been subject to an independent medical evaluation or have a workers’ compensation case that could potentially escalate to a trial, our Chicago team at Leonard Law Group can help protect your rights. Schedule a free consultation today to discuss your options by calling (312) 487-2513.