Independent medical examinations are used in worker’s comp cases to gather additional evidence regarding a worker’s injuries. Even though you might be required to submit to an independent medical exam (IME), you have rights.
Our Clearwater workers’ comp lawyers can guide you through the process of an IME and help protect your benefits in a workers’ compensation claim.
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What is an Independent Medical Examination in a Florida Workers’ Compensation Case?
If you sustained an injury on the job, you probably are entitled to receive workers’ compensation benefits, including medical care and lost wages. Florida’s workers’ compensation laws require most employers to provide workers’ comp insurance coverage for their employees. As part of your workers’ comp case, you might be required to take an independent medical examination.
Florida Statute §440.13 defines an independent medical examination as an objective evaluation of your medical condition, including your ability to work and impairment status. An expert medical advisor or physician performs an IME. A party to the claim, the Department of Financial Services, or a judge of compensation claims can request an IME.
Your employer or workers’ comp insurance provider may request an IME if you have more than one medical condition, your condition changes, or you file a lawsuit. They request an IME to verify you sustained the injuries you claim and the severity of the injuries.
If you refuse to attend a scheduled IME, your workers’ comp case could be dismissed. However, the judge might prevent you from presenting medical evidence if the case goes forward.
What Are My Rights During an Independent Medical Exam?
Unfortunately, IMEs are not always impartial. The workers’ comp carrier chooses the medical examiner. Even though the medical examiner is not an employee or contractor of the insurance company, the examiner may favor employers and insurance companies.
Therefore, it is important to understand and exercise your rights regarding an IME.
First, you have the right to consult with an attorney about your workers’ comp case. That should be your first step if you receive notice of an independent medical examination in your case.
Other rights you have regarding an IME include the following:
- Your lawyer can attend the examination with you.
- The party who requests the IME is responsible for paying the medical examiner.
- You cannot be required to travel a long distance to attend the IME.
- You have a right to receive a copy of the medical examiner’s report.
- You have the right to correct factual mistakes made by the medical examiner.
- You also have the right to dispute errors in the medical report regarding your medical history or treatment.
- You and your attorney have the right to review correspondence between the medical examiner and the workers’ comp insurance company.
- If your employer or the insurance company does not agree with the results from an independent medical examination, they do not have the right to request another IME for the same medical condition.
An IME is a medical examination, so it is similar to the exam by a regular doctor. However, there is an important distinction.
The statements you make and the information you provide are not subject to patient confidentiality. The information can be used in court against you.
However, that does not mean you should lie or intentionally mislead the medical examiner. It is best to be truthful and straightforward, but you are not required to provide any information that is not requested.
You might have the right to get a second opinion, if the evidence supports that you deserve one. You have the right to obtain a second opinion and expert opinions at your own expense.
What Should You Do After a Workplace Injury in Florida?
Being injured at work is not something you expect. However, now that it has happened, you need to take steps to protect your legal rights.
You must notify your employer of a work injury or accident within 30 days to be eligible for workers’ comp benefits. However, workers’ comp might not be your only claim after a workplace injury.
Injured workers cannot sue their employer for negligence, with very few exceptions. However, they might have a claim against a third party. A third-party claim is a personal injury case that could result in additional compensation.
A Clearwater workers’ comp lawyer evaluates your case to determine all possible sources of benefits and compensation. After being hurt at work, you need benefits to help pay your bills and living expenses. Talking with a workplace accident lawyer can help you get the money you deserve.
Contact Us for a Free Consultation with a Clearwater Workers’ Compensation Lawyer
Were you injured in a workplace accident? Do you have questions about workers’ compensation claims?
Our Clearwater workers’ compensation attorneys at Perenich, Caulfield, Avril & Noyes Personal Injury Lawyers fight to protect your rights to fair compensation and settlements. Contact our law firm to schedule a free case review with a lawyer at (727) 796-8282.