If you have sustained work-related injuries and file a workers' compensation claim, there's a good chance that your employer's insurer will request you to honor a medical examination with a physician of their choice. These assessments are referred to as independent medical examinations. Conversely, the word 'independent' is hypocritical, since the medical examination is organized and funded by the insurance company. Moreover, the examining doctor gets directives from the insurance company and there's not much regarding the process that is unbiased or independent. It's in the best interests of the insurance company to pay as little compensation on a claim as possible and every so often the findings of independent medical examinations downplay or lessen a plaintiff's injuries and incapacities. As a result, injured workers should talk to a personal injury attorney for guidance.
Given that attending an independent medical examination is compulsory as part of your claim process, your attorney will advise you on the things you should do and avoid during the assessment in order to protect yourself as well as preserve your claim.
What to do
- Bring your best friend or family member with you for the appointment. They can help you feel relaxed and comfortable, and provide further help in recollecting what transpired during the independent examination.
- If you are not in a position to take notes, you may ask whoever accompanied you to do that during the examination.
- Once you've left the doctor's office, write down all the things you can recall about the examination. Of importance, note down how long the assessment took, the type of questions asked, as well as any scans or tests that were carried out on you.
- It's important to bring all the medical records from your regular physician when attending the independent examination.
- Be early for the appointment
What not to do
- Do not try to overstate the extent of your injuries and symptoms. All your responses to the questions asked should be honest and concise.
- Do not guess an answer if you're not sure. Anything you don't know should be replied with an 'I don't know' response.
- Do not volunteer any information that the independent physician does not ask you about. It's important that you keep the appointment strictly focused on the medical examination and no other talk.
- Do not talk about any legal, financial or insurance matters connected to your claim case with the physician.
Overall, bear in mind that the doctor administering the independent medical examination is hired by the insurance company. Therefore, they are working with the interests of the insurer at heart. Your personal injury attorney can prepare you to confidently face the independent medical examination as well as give you further guidance in respect to the process.