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As a New York Workers’ Comp. claimant you will very likely be subjected to an Independent Medical Exam (IME). Don’t let the name fool you! There’s nothing independent about these exams. IMEs are paid for by the insurance company and the insurance company isn’t interested in an unbiased opinion.
The insurance company is interested in obtaining a medical opinion that states your condition is pre-existing, is less severe than your doctor says and/or that you are malingering. The doctor performing the IME will be listening to everything you say and watching everything you do.
The purpose of this post is to provide some general advice we give our clients prior to their IMEs. For more background on IMEs please read Attorney Jim Reed’s post “Why ‘Independent’ Medical Exams Are NOT Independent.”
To prepare our client’s for an IME, we generally invite them to watch a video and then go over the highlights. Below are some DOs and DON’Ts regarding IMEs.
THE THINGS THAT YOU SHOULD DO ARE:
1. Folks are often nervous and forget things when seeing their own doctor. You’re even more likely to be nervous and forget things at an IME. Prior to the IME prepare notes regarding how your work related injury has effected you in terms of pain, sleep, work, activities of daily living, hobbies and relationships and take those notes with you into the exam.
2. Dress conservatively.
3. Have someone drive you to your IME and go into the examination room with you.
4. Arrive on time and be patient if you have to wait.
5. Be courteous, honest, and cooperative with the doctor and his staff.
6. Answer the doctor’s questions as directly, honestly and accurately as you can. Do not volunteer information.
7. When describing what happened, your injuries and current physical condition, state it in a manner that is consistent with your previous testimony. Be sure to tell the doctor all the injuries you sustained as a result of your work accident.
8. If the doctor asks you about your job, give the doctor an accurate history of your job responsibilities. Be specific about your job in terms of lifting, bending, stooping, walking, etc., and any difficulties you have had or are experiencing at work as a result of the accident.
9. If you have a relevant past medical history, please disclose it. In other words, if the doctor asks you if you had a previous injury of any type, be straightforward and honest.
10. You should be aware that sometimes a doctor will perform the same test on you a number of times. The doctor may be trying to determine if you complain of pain inconsistently.
11. You and the person who went with you should make a WRITTEN record of what has occurred immediately following the examination and after you return home. It should include:
- a notation as to the exact times you arrived at the office, were taken into the examination room, the time the doctor came into the examination room and the time you left the doctor’s office;
- the name of any persons in the room during the exam;
- the questions the doctor asked and the answers you provided;
- the things the doctor did during the physical exam, for example, note if he listened to you breath, tested your strength, watched you walk, etc.;
- any statements made by the doctor regarding the nature and extent of your condition or its cause; and
- anything else you think is important.
THE THINGS YOU SHOULD NOT DO ARE:
1. Don’t try to outsmart the doctor.
2. Don’t offer any negative comments about your employer or the insurance company.
3. Don’t jump on and off the doctor’s examination table.
4. Don’t exaggerate your problems.
5. Don’t ask the doctor for medication or pain pills.
6. Don’t discuss with the doctor any settlement negotiations or the amount of lost wages.
7. Don’t become angry, argumentative or question the doctor’s credentials.
8. Don’t refuse to answer questions regarding how you were injured, the nature and extent of your injuries, whether or not you’ve worked and the types of activies you are currently engaged in.
9. Don’t engage the doctor in idle conversations.
10. Don’t use medical or legal terms while conversing with the doctor.
11. Don’t guess or estimate in answering questions. If you don’t know or can’t remember the answer to a question, say that you don’t know or can’t remember.
12. Don’t sign anything.
An IME is an important event in your Workers’ Comp. case and being prepared can make the difference between a good and bad result.
Thanks for reading,
Eric L. Johnson
Ziff, Weiermiller, Hayden & Mustico, LLP
303 William St.
Elmira, NY 14902
Tel: (607) 733-8866
Fax: (607) 732-6062
Toll Free: 1-800-943-3529