Since filing your workers' compensation claim six months ago, you've been diligent about attending every required medical appointment to treat your injury. While the treatment has helped thus far, your doctors say that more visits will be necessary to ensure a full recovery. Your employer's insurance company, however, wants you to get a second opinion. They have scheduled an Independent Medical Examination (IME) performed by a doctor of their choice, of which you are told your attendance is required.
When workers receive notice of an IME, they often have many questions. Here are some answers to frequently asked questions regarding IMEs to give you a better understanding of the process.
What is an Independent Medical Examination?
At an IME, you will undergo an evaluation by a medical professional. Following your visit, they will document their professional opinion regarding your injury in a report. Upon receipt of the report, the insurance company will investigate to determine if your injury is compensable under workers' compensation. They will review the extent of your injuries and the type of treatment that the doctor has deemed to be appropriate. If your claim relates to a permanent disability, the insurer will weigh the effect that your injury has had on your ability to earn wages.
Do I have to go to the appointment?
It is a good idea to attend all required medical appointments, including an IME. If you do not attend, a law judge within the Workers' Compensation Division will bar you from receiving compensation until you appear.
If you are unable to attend the scheduled appointment due to prior commitments, you can request that the appointment be rescheduled. If you must reschedule, notify the insurance company or your attorney, if applicable, as soon as possible. You may be charged a fee if you miss the examination and fail to provide proper notice.
What does it mean to have reached Maximum Medical Improvement?
The medical professional may issue an opinion stating that you have reached Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI.) IME doctors may claim that a patient has reached MMI and that additional medical treatment would be unnecessary. If this happens, the insurance company may stop your benefits.
If you have received a notice of an IME in Wisconsin, an experienced workers' compensation attorney can help you to prepare you for the appointment. You are entitled to benefits after sustaining a work-related injury and seeking legal help can be a good idea to guide you through the claims process.