You may have appointments with multiple doctors after suffering a work-related injury. Your treating physician is your primary doctor who will diagnose your injuries, administer your treatment and monitor your recovery until you have reached maximum medical improvement. If you are filing a workers’ compensation claim, your employer can order you to visit a physician for an independent medical exam (IME). The IME doctor will give the workers’ compensation insurer an opinion on whether the workplace incident caused your injuries, the extent of your injuries, and whether you are capable of returning to work. Sometimes, the IME report will contradict your physician’s report, forcing you to settle the dispute with an arbitrator.
Difference of Opinion
Workers’ compensation attorneys often find the opinions from IMEs to be dubious because the insurance company is paying the physician for the service. An IME doctor is supposed to be independent, but insurance companies will regularly use doctors who have a history of giving opinions that favor the companies in workers’ compensation cases. How can an IME doctor give a credible medical report that contradicts the findings of other physicians? The doctor may:
- Search your medical history for other potential causes of your current condition
- Be less thorough in examining your current condition before reaching a conclusion
- Simply have different opinions about the causes and effects of injuries.
Arguing Your Case
The IME may conclude that your injury was unrelated to your work, that your injury is not as severe as your treating physician claims, or that you are physically able to return to work in a full or limited capacity. Based on these findings, your workers’ compensation insurer may try to deny your claim or stop your disability benefits. When a workers’ compensation arbitrator receives conflicting medical reports, they will use the report that they deem to be more credible. You can help your case by:
- Remembering how long your visit with the IME doctor lasted and what they said and did during the exam
- Describing your current condition, how it has changed, and how it has limited your capabilities
An IME report will seem less credible if the doctor had one brief visit with you or did little to examine your condition or ask you relevant questions. Your treating physician has seen you multiple times, meaning they should have a better understanding of your injuries.
Contact a Crystal Lake, Illinois, Workers’ Compensation Attorney
It is important to have strong legal representation during a workers’ compensation case because the insurance company will likely try to dispute your claim. A McHenry County workers’ compensation lawyer at Botto Gilbert Lancaster, PC, has experience working against aggressive insurers. To schedule a free consultation, call 815-338-3838.