Once you file an Oklahoma workers’ compensation claim, you may be asked to submit to an independent medical examination (IME) by a doctor other than your treating physician. An IME can have a significant impact on your claim, so it’s important for you to prepare beforehand and know what to expect during the IME.
Before your IME
Find out what the insurance company wants to know. Your employer’s claims adjuster may have sent a letter to the IME doctor that describes the nature of your claim, the treatment you have received to date, as well as specific questions about your condition the insurer wants answered during the exam. You should request a copy of that letter prior to your IME appointment so you can correct any potential errors and ensure the questions being asked of the IME doctor are appropriate. Send your request in writing to your employer’s insurance company and send a copy to the Oklahoma Workers’ Compensation Commission for your file.
Know your medical history. Your medical records will likely be sent to the IME doctor, who will likely be looking for any previous injuries to the same part of your body affected by your most recent workplace injury. You will be asked about your medical history, so be sure you know it well.
Review your accident. You will be asked to explain in detail how your injuries occurred so the IME doctor can tell if your injury is work-related. Be sure that what you tell the IME doctor is consistent with your prior statements and your medical record. Any inconsistencies in your account of the accident may harm your claim.
Know your treatment history. You will likely be asked to explain your course of treatment for your injury, so examine your records carefully to refresh your memory prior to your IME.
Review your symptoms. You will need to tell the IME doctor about all your current symptoms and/or limitations in order to support your claim. Be sure to include everything, no matter how minor it may seem to you.
Be on time and dress appropriately. Missing your appointment time could lead to adverse consequences like a suspension in benefits, so be sure to arrive a little early. Dress in a way that is appropriate for your injury — for example, don’t wear high heels if you have an ankle injury — and bring any medical equipment that you need for your injury like a cane, crutches, dark glasses, etc.
Bring someone. Bring a friend or family member with you who can take notes and witness the exam. Tell them not to ask questions or speak.
During your IME
Be polite. Although the IME doctor has been hired by your employer’s insurance company, you should still be respectful and polite.
Be honest. The IME doctor will likely conduct tests during your examination to determine if you have been honest about the extent of your injuries. If you are not completely honest or exaggerate your symptoms, this could hurt your claim so always be truthful. You do not need to downplay any of your symptoms; just be thorough, accurate, and honest about what you are experiencing.
Be accurate about limitations. If your injury has caused you to be limited in some of your normal activities (driving, walking, eating, etc.), be forthright and honest about these limitations. It is not unheard of for insurance companies to monitor your activities or scour your social media feeds, so if there is evidence that you are doing things you say you can’t do, your claim may be denied.
Explain any previous injuries. If you have a previous injury to the same part of your body that was hurt at work, the insurance company is likely to question whether or not your current injury is due to an old injury or the new one. You will need to explain how the new injury differs from any previous injury. For example, if your old injury occurred years ago and you have not suffered from any symptoms or pain from that old injury, say that. If you have more pain or new symptoms due to the new injury, describe them in detail.
Following the IME, the doctor will provide your insurance company with a report. You and your attorney should receive a copy. Be sure you review it thoroughly for any mistakes or inaccuracies.
Have you been injured at work? Don’t hesitate to contact the experienced attorneys at Armstrong & Vaught, P.L.C. Let our team stand by your side throughout the workers’ compensation claim process to ensure you are fully compensated for your work-related injuries. Call us at (918) 582-2500 or toll-free at (800) 722-8880 or complete the simple form below for a free consultation with a skilled attorney.