If you have already appeared for an independent medical examination and you receive a notice requiring you to attend a second one, you may be puzzled and frustrated. In addition to taking a significant amount of your time, a second exam costs the insurance company a lot of money. Why would the insurer want another IME? There are a few possible reasons.
- A Lot of Time Has Passed Since the First IME
Sometimes, the insurance company may schedule a second IME because a lot of time has passed since the first examination. Insurance companies are generally looking for one particular finding in the IME report: that the injured worker has reached maximum medical improvement (MMI). If the doctor puts that in the report, the insurance company can stop paying benefits or switch to paying permanent benefits (PPD or PTD).
The report from the first IME may not say that the worker has reached MMI, in the IME doctor’s opinion. In that case, the insurance company may wait a few months to a year, then schedule a second IME in the hopes that the doctor can find MMI after some time passes.
- Your Treating Physician Has Changed His or Her Opinion
The insurance company’s goal in scheduling an IME is always to get an doctor’s opinion justifying reduction or termination of benefits. As an injured worker continues to see his primary treating physician, the diagnosis or long-term treatment plan may change. When the insurance company learns of this change in opinion, it may want the doctor of its choice to challenge that new opinion that was not considered in the original IME report. As a result, the insurance company will schedule a second IME.
- You Have Suffered from an Aggravation to the Injury or Additional Injury
Unfortunately, injured workers do suffer from aggravations to the original injury (it gets worse) or additional injuries at work or home. Insurance companies always want to know whether they can reapportion benefits to pay less money to an injured worker. A second IME gives an opportunity for the insurance company’s chosen doctor to consider how the aggravation or additional injury affects treatment and MMI. If the insurance company suspects that the worker is exaggerating or faking the further injury, it definitely will want a doctor not chosen by the worker to evaluate him.
Talk to your lawyer about whether you need to make a request that your own doctor attend the IME. Also please note that the insurance company has to pay for your mileage and travel expenses to attend the IME. If you are working, it also has to pay your lost wages for time you spent attending the exam. Make sure you give your lawyer records of any expenses you have for attending the second IME so that you can get reimbursed.
Are you facing a second independent medical examination and need advice? Joe Osterbauer, Esq. and the Osterbauer Law Firm stand up for injured Minnesota workers’ rights. Joe’s 27 years of workers’ compensation experience and his team’s speedy service combine to get clients the results they need. To schedule a free consultation, visit Osterbauer Law Firm online or call Joe’s office at (612) 334-3434.