What you need to do if you’ve been injured on the job
Following a workplace accident in Florida, an injured worker can file a claim for workers’ compensation benefits. A common part of the workers’ compensation process is an independent medical examination, which is something that a worker should be expecting and ready for. If you are injured on the job and know that you will need to attend an independent medical examination, here is a look into how to prepare.
What Is an Independent Medical Exam?
An independent medical exam, or IME, is something that nearly all injured workers who file a claim for benefits will need to go through. As described by Florida Code Title XXXI Chapter 440.13 (i) an IME is an independent assessment of the worker’s physical condition, injury level, or disability. Typically, an IME is conducted to determine the status of an employee as it applies to the employee returning to work.
An IME is called independent because it must be performed by someone other than the injured worker’s treating physician. Further, the IME can be requested by either the employee or the employer.
Preparing for Your IME
While an IME is meant to be completely unbiased, the truth is that in some cases, the doctor performing the IME may be biased in favor of the employer. As such, it is important that you understand your rights, and that you do everything possible to protect those rights and to ensure that the assessment is fair. Here are some things that you can and should do in preparing for your IME:
- Be prepared to describe what happened. You should be prepared to describe exactly how your injuries occurred, i.e. what you were doing at the time of accident, where the accident occurred, what part of your body was impacted, and more. Make sure that everything you say during an IME (or anyone else throughout the workers’ compensation process) is 100 percent truthful, and is free of any exaggerations.
- Know what you plan to say about the extent and effect of your injuries. In addition to describing how your accident occurred, you should also be prepared to describe how you’re healing, what disabilities you have retained, your pain level, and anything else related to your condition. You should also be ready to share details about any treatment you have already received. The best way to prepare for this is to keep detailed notes, and to bring these notes with you to your IME.
- Try to bring someone with you to the appointment. Bringing someone with you to your appointment can be helpful for two reasons. First, if the person you bring is someone close to you, such as your spouse, the person can help you remember questions to ask the doctor, or can speak to the extent of your injuries. Second, an additional person at your appointment can serve as a party who can verify your account of events if there is a dispute about anything that happened at the IME.
- Plan to record what the IME physician says. It is important that you take thorough notes about what the IME physician says and does. Like having a witness, your notes can serve as a source of verification if there is a dispute at a later date.
- Remember that what you say to the IME doctor is not confidential. As you are thinking about and planning what you will say to your IME physician during your IME, remember that this is not a standard doctor-patient appointment, and the same level of confidentiality does not apply. It is likely that anything that you tell the IME doctor will be reported to the insurance company. As such, take a moment before you arrive to determine if there is any information that you do not want the insurance company to know.
- Talk with an attorney. Before you attend your IME, you should discuss, in detail, what you will say and what you should expect during your IME. Practicing questions and answers with an attorney, or reviewing what information to share with the IME physician, can prove to be very helpful to your state of mind and to your workers’ compensation claim.
Contact Our Florida Workers’ Compensation Lawyers Today
Don’t go into your IME blindly. If you have an IME scheduled, contact our experienced Florida workers’ compensation attorneys at Whibbs Stone Barnett Attorneys at Law for a free consultation and information about we can help protect your rights to workers’ compensation benefits. Our number is (888) 219-4561.