Independent Medical Examination
For someone who has been injured at the workplace, medical benefits are an extremely important part of a workers’ compensation claim. Whether you can make a full recovery is going to be a critical question in your case. To have this question answered, your employer’s insurance company may ask you to go through an Independent Medical Examination (IME) in addition to seeing your treating physician. If you are in this situation, you can consult our Wheaton and Schaumburg workers’ compensation lawyers, who can help you understand your rights.Understanding the Independent Medical Examination
Workers’ compensation is a system designed to compensate workers if they are unable to work due to an injury or illness sustained on the job. Depending on the gravity of the injury or illness, an employee may be entitled to a variety of benefits. In Illinois, if you are hurt in a work-related accident, you have the right to seek medical help from a doctor of your own choosing. Your company needs to pay for all reasonable medical care related to your injury.
Under the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act, however, the insurance company paying the benefits has the right to request that an injured worker sees a doctor of its choice for an IME, which the injured worker is required to attend. Prior to the appointment, the company’s doctor will review the medical records provided by your employer. At the IME, the doctor will perform a physical exam and ask you questions regarding your injury and treatment. The doctor may ask you about your job, your work requirements, and other activities in which you take part outside work. The physician will also determine whether you are at “maximum medical improvement” (MMI), which means that you are at a point in your recovery at which you likely are not going to get any better. In other words, you are as good as you are going to get after the injury.
After the exam, the company’s doctor will draft a report answering any questions that your employer may have asked. In addition, the doctor will provide the employer’s insurance company with your impairment rating, if appropriate. This number indicates the amount of your body’s use that you have lost because of your injury. The higher the number, the more serious your injury, and the higher your benefits will be. They may be partial or total and temporary or permanent.
It is important to note that pursuant to Section 12 of the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act, your employer has the right to require you to be evaluated by a physician of your employer’s choosing. Put another way, if a worker fails to attend the IME, their employer can stop issuing workers’ compensation benefits, such as medical care, physical therapy, prescription pain medication, doctor visits, and other benefits.
Generally, insurance companies will request that you submit to an IME if there is a question or concern about the compensability of your claim. Unfortunately, IMEs are often used to deny workers’ compensation claims. In other cases, the insurance company may want to declare that you have reached MMI so that it can stop paying benefits sooner. Since the insurance company is paying the doctor, there is often some concern about the doctor’s motivations. An experienced lawyer on your side, who knows how an IME should be conducted, can help you make sure that your IME was appropriate and impartial and that none of your rights was violated.Discuss Your Situation with a Workers’ Compensation Lawyer in Schaumburg or Wheaton
Questions and worries regarding IMEs are not uncommon when an injured worker is trying to seek workers’ compensation benefits. If you have been hurt on the job, our Schaumburg and Wheaton attorneys can help you navigate the laws concerning an IME. At Therman Law Offices, we are committing to helping our clients understand their rights at every step of the way, including in any appeals that may be appropriate. We represent people in cities such as Lombard, Villa Park, Addison, Elmhurst, West Chicago, Lemont, Westmont, Oakbrook Terrace, Clarendon Hills, and Downers Grove. If you have any questions regarding an independent medical examination, call us at 312-588-1900 or contact us online.