Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Will I Have to Undergo an Independent Medical Examination (IME) for My MN Workers’ Compensation Injury?

In our practice, I’d estimate at least 2/3 of my Minnesota workers’ compensation clients are required to undergo an “Independent” Medical Examination (IME) at least once during the duration of their claim. IME’s on disputed claims are almost inevitable.

We refer to so-called “Independent” Medical Examinations (IME) as adverse exams. They are not independent. The doctor you see will not offer treatment recommendations or advice. The doctor is hired by and paid for by the workers’ compensation insurance company.

The purpose of an IME is to provide an “independent” and “expert” opinion report regarding the nature and cause of your injuries for the insurance company. As you might imagine, very, very few of these reports are favorable to the Employee. Generally speaking, the IME doctor will opine that you weren’t hurt, that your injuries were pre-existing or unrelated to your work, that if you did have an injury, you’re completely healed, that your medical care has been unreasonable or unnecessary, that you’re not disabled, or that you’re simply faking it all together. The workers’ compensation insurance company then uses this so-called “expert” opinion as a basis to deny your claim.

Unfortunately, you are generally required to attend if the workers’ compensation insurance company decides to send you to one.

I ran across an interesting report from the MN Dept. of Labor and Industry analyzing what types of workers’ compensation claims involved an Independent Medical Examination. Claims that were closed in 2001 were included in the analysis, and a total of 1,197 of claims were reviewed to determine whether an IME had been performed and filed with the Department of Labor and Industry. Not all IME’s that are conducted are filed with DOLI, so some claims with no IME on file may have still had one conducted. Some claims fell into multiple categories. Not surprisingly, the analysis shows that claims where there was a dispute, or where the Employee’s disability lasted for an extended period were very likely to involve an IME.

  • IME’s were filed on 9% of all claims involving indemnity benefits.
  • IME’s were filed on 16% cases where claimants received temporary total disability (TTD) benefits for more than four weeks.
  • IME’s were filed on 28% cases where a vocational rehabilitation plan was filed.
  • IME’s were filed on 31% cases involving a primary denial of liability as well as a claim for indemnity benefits.
  • IME’s were filed on 37% cases where a Rehabilitation Request for Assistance was filed.
  • IME’s were filed on 56% cases where a Medical Request for Assistance was filed.
  • IME’s were filed on 52% cases involving an Administrative Hearing Request, dealing with objections to discontinuances of wage loss benefits.
  • IME’s were filed on 54% cases where a Stipulation for Settlement was filed.
  • IME’s were filed on 63% cases where a Claim Petition was filed.
  • IME’s were filed on 84% cases where a formal Objection to Discontinuance or Petition to Discontinue was filed.
If you’ve been scheduled for an Independent Medical Examination (IME) by your workers’ compensation insurance company, now is the time to speak with a workers’ compensation lawyer. It means that the workers’ compensation insurance company is going to try to stop your workers’ compensation benefits, and they’re seeking a so-called “expert” opinion to justify their reason for stopping your benefits.

For a free, no-obligation consultation with one of our Minnesota workers’ compensation lawyers, call us at 877-746-5680, or click here to send us an email.


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