Do I Have to Get an Independent Medical Exam?

Were you injured at your workplace in Florida? You may be entitled to money for your medical bills and lost wages through a workers’ compensation claim. Florida law requires most employers to purchase workers’ compensation.

However, your employer’s workers’ compensation insurer may not pay the full value of your claim. Insurance companies look for reasons to minimize the amount of money they pay to claimants. For example, an insurer may try to dispute your doctor’s assessment of your medical needs. 

Your doctor may make certain determinations regarding the nature of your treatment and when you can return to work after being injured. However, the workers’ comp insurer might disagree with them. If this happens, you may need to get an independent medical examination (IME).

Understanding the Role of Independent Medical Exams

You have a doctor-patient relationship with your personal physician. However, your employer’s workers’ compensation insurer might not know much about them or their qualifications. An insurer could argue your doctor’s findings are inaccurate, and you deserve less compensation than you’re seeking. They may require you to get an IME.

What is the purpose of an IME?

If an insurer disputes your doctor’s assessment of your condition and medical needs, they may request an additional examination from another physician. Theoretically, this is supposed to be a neutral doctor who isn’t biased towards any one party.

Who chooses the doctor performing an IME?

In Florida, the party requesting an IME is typically the one to choose the doctor who will perform it. This will usually be the insurance company or your employer. In some cases, a judge may choose the physician.

Do I have to pay for an IME?

No. The party who requests the IME is responsible for covering its cost.

What does an IME involve?

A doctor performing an IME will usually review your relevant medical records. They will then perform an exam and prepare a report based on their findings.

What if I disagree with the findings of the doctor who performs my IME?

Hopefully, a physician performing an IME will come to the same conclusions as your own doctor. However, this doesn’t always happen. 

Sometimes, an IME report will indicate the initial findings were inaccurate. In this case, a claimant may not be able to recover as much compensation as they sought originally.

However, you do have the right to challenge the IME report. Having legal representation will bolster your efforts. There are various ways an attorney can potentially challenge an IME. For example, they can point out that the doctor performing the IME may have an incentive to side with the insurance company.

You may be able to get a second opinion if your lawyer can demonstrate that you deserve one. It’s generally possible to request second opinions when circumstances warrant.

This is one of several reasons it’s wise to hire an attorney when filing a workers’ compensation claim in Florida. An insurer may employ a range of tactics to avoid paying you what you deserve. You need to protect yourself with the help of a legal professional.