Written by attorney Ronald Lee Calhoon

What Should I know About the IME, Surveillance and Social Media ("private" facebook postings)

Every six months you are likely to be asked by the workers' compensation insurance company to see an “independent" doctor. Do not take these defense medical examinations lightly. In Pennsylvania, the I.M.E. is not for the purpose of treating your work injuries; it is merely an attempt to solicit a medical-legal opinion to limit the comp insurance company’s exposure for wage loss and medical benefits. If you wish to, we can arrange for a qualified nurse to the attend examination with you on your behalf to fully document the examination or lack thereof. At a minimum, you should document the length of the actual physical examination, the tests performed, and what was said by you and the doctor. Do not exaggerate your symptoms or limitations. Treat the defense medical examiner as a friend providing a free second opinion. The best defense against the examination is absolute honesty. Your wage loss benefits are based upon earning loss and not on physical incapacity. For example, a concert pianist with a strained finger is totally disabled because the injury is causing a total earning loss.

On the day of your defense medical examination, there may be surveillance placed on you to determine your level of activity. Usually, the surveillance will occur the day before the independent exam, the day of the independent exam, and the day after the independent exam. These times for surveillance are not inclusive. You can be put under surveillance at any time and hat surveillance tape can beforwarded to a doctor to review. The purpose of the surveillance is to “catch" an injured worker at a level of an activity higher than stated at the time of the examination. Since your wage loss benefits are based upon income loss and not normally based upon total physical inability to perform activities of daily living, surveillance of physical activities is only threatening when you perform a single Herculean act or repetitive activities over a very prolonged period of time. Failure to report income is a crime and a kiss of death to credibility. Insurance companies can also look at your social media sites, such as Face Book, to determine, among other things, your level of activity and earnings. Recently, I had a defense attorney offer months of wall postings to show that the injured worker did not once publically complain about their back. Either shut down these sites or restrict them with privacy controls. For more information, go to

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