Top Tips For Your Independent Medical Evaluation (IME)
If you are considering obtaining an IME in your workers' compensation claim or if the insurance carrier has compelled you to attend an IME, please be sure to reference this guide beforehand!
UNDERSTAND THE IMEAn IME is a type of evaluation commonly used by injured workers and insurance carriers to simply obtain a doctor's opinion regarding an individual's medical condition and future care plan. While the IME doctor can make suggestions regarding future courses of treatment, he/she cannot prescribe medical treatment or medication. There is no patient/physician relationship created with the IME.
KNOW THE GEORGIA WORKERS' COMPENSATION LAWS REGARDING IMESIMEs are very important "tools" in the context of workers' compensation cases. If the Employer/Insurer has accepted your workers' compensation case, Georgia law allows them to compel you to attend an IME with a doctor of THEIR choosing, at their cost. In fact, Georgia law allows the Employer/Insurer to compel you to attend as many IMEs as they see fit. It is very important to keep in mind that the Employer/Insurer will most likely send you to one of their "go-to" doctors. These doctors often issue conservative opinions in favor of the Employer/Insurer. I highly encourage you to seek legal counsel if you have been compelled by the Employer/Insurer to attend an IME.
If the Employer/Insurer has accepted your workers' compensation case, Georgia law also allows you to have one (1) IME with a doctor of YOUR choosing at their cost. This is often referred to as the "Claimant's one-time IME." Georgia law requires the Employer/Insurer to only pay for one (1) IME, therefore, it is very important to consult with your attorney to determine when the appropriate time to use your one-time IME is and which doctor should conduct the IME. Note: You can elect to attend as many IMEs you wish beyond your "one-time IME" but at your own expense.
UNDERSTAND THE IMPORTANCE OF THE IMEIn most cases, an IME is utilized because there is uncertainty regarding a pertinent medical issue or because a medical issue is contested. The Employer/Insurer may send you to an IME for a number of reasons: perhaps they do not believe that your work accident resulted in an injury; perhaps they believe that a pre-existing injury or a different injury is to blame for your alleged work injury; perhaps they believe that a procedure or medical device recommended by your authorized treating physician (ATP) is not necessary or perhaps they believe that you are at maximum medical improvement (MMI).
In the alternative, you may utilize your one-time IME to counter the reasons above. You may also use your one-time IME to counter a previous IME ordered by the Employer/Insurer. You may also use your IME when you are dissatisfied with the overall treatment provided by your current treating physician. Additionally, you may use the IME to obtain a "second-opinion" regarding an impairment rating, functional capacity evaluation, or recommended surgery. As you can see, the IME is a valuable tool in your workers' compensation case! Again, consult with your attorney to determine the appropriate time and reason to use your one-time IME.
IDENTIFY THE PURPOSE OF THE IME BEFORE YOU ATTENDBefore attending your upcoming IME, it is important to answer the following questions: What issues are contested with regards to your medical care? What issues are contested regarding your medical condition? Who is requesting this IME? You or the Employer/Insurer? What is this IME trying to accomplish and/or establish? What is the conclusion that you want the doctor to reach?
If you are unclear on any of these issues, consult with your attorney as quickly as possible and define clear goals before the IME. Going into an IME "blind" and ill prepared will constitute a missed opportunity on your part to continue building your case against the Employer/Insurer!