At Hanning & Sacchetto, LLP, our Whittier workers’ compensation attorneys know that after filing a workers’ compensation claim in California, injured workers may be required to attend an independent medical examination (IME).
The purpose of an IME is for the insurance company to gather information from an expert to determine whether to award, continue, or deny workers’ compensation benefits.
The exam can significantly impact an injured worker’s ability to obtain workers’ compensation benefits or continue to receive benefits after they have been initially awarded for their workplace injuries. Partnering with a Los Angeles County workers’ compensation attorney is critical to protect your legal rights and options from the start of your claim.
While our lawyers evaluate each of our client’s workers’ compensation circumstances on a case-by-case basis, to follow are general tips for workers on approaching an IME and ensuring a fair evaluation.
What is the Purpose and Process of an IME in California Workers’ Compensation Claims?
The employer, insurer, or the Division of Workers’ Compensation initiates the IME process by requesting an evaluation. They typically choose a qualified and impartial medical professional to conduct the examination. Injured workers may choose their doctor under California’s workers’ compensation laws, but it is subject to certain restrictions and conditions. The selected medical professional should be an expert in the relevant medical field and have no prior relationship with the injured worker. This ensures an unbiased evaluation.
Upon notification of a request for an IME, the injured worker has three options:
- Agree to the request.
- Agree to the request with modifications.
- Refuse to submit to the examination for reasons specified in the response.
During the IME, the medical examiner reviews the injured worker’s medical history, conducts a physical examination, and discusses the details of the injury. Before preparing a detailed medical report, the examiner may ask questions about the incident, symptoms, and previous medical treatments. The report includes findings from the examination, the examiner’s medical opinion about the injury, the appropriateness of the treatment plan, and the extent of disability, if any.
The medical report is typically shared with the employer, the injured worker’s attorney, the insurance company, and the California Division of Workers’ Compensation.
The report serves as a basis for benefits, treatment, and claim resolution decisions and can significantly impact the workers’ compensation claim. If the IME confirms the severity of the injury and the need for specific treatments, it can support the injured worker’s case.
Conversely, if the IME suggests a different assessment, it may influence benefit awards and treatment approvals.
If you have been injured in a California workplace accident, you have the right to have legal representation present during the IME to protect your rights. If disagreements exist between the treating physician’s assessment and the IME report, these issues can be addressed through the workers’ compensation appeals process.
Our skilled Whitter workers’ compensation lawyers can protect your rights through each step of your claim so you have the best opportunity to obtain and continue the benefits you need to reach maximum medical improvement.
Contact Our California Workers’ Compensation Attorneys at Hanning & Sacchetto Today
If you have suffered a California workplace injury or illness and are facing claim challenges, contact our experienced workers’ compensation attorneys in Whittier today by calling (562) 698-6446 to schedule a free consultation.