After submitting your workers’ compensation claim, you may receive a request for an Independent Medical Examination. Understanding how this works and the purpose behind it can help you prepare yourself.

The IME consists of an examination by a doctor selected by the insurance company. This physician typically reviews your records from your regular doctor, conducts a physical exam and asks you some questions.

The IME is not for your benefit

While the IME is technically independent, many of the doctors who conduct them do tend towards a bias in favor of the insurance company. As you can guess, the company wants to save money, and having to pay fewer benefits certainly helps that goal. Thus, a doctor conducting an IME is more likely to find a lesser degree of impairment than your regular healthcare team.

Attendance is usually mandatory

One common question people ask is whether they have to attend the IME. The answer is, yes. Missouri law requires you to comply with an IME request or face the loss of your benefits. However, knowing the typical process can help you handle this the right way.

What you should know in advance

You should be aware that you will be observed from the moment you arrive, beginning with the way you exit your car and approach the building. These notes will form part of the IME report.

You should also review your medical treatment timeline and the event leading to your injury. It is common for people to get nervous and mix up dates or the order of events; however, doing so at an IME can give the insurance company inconsistent statements they can then use against you.

Some people feel the impulse to downplay their health condition, and others tend to exaggerate. Either tendency can get you in trouble at the IME. Aim for maximum accuracy, and do not volunteer information you were not asked for. You should also be aware that some types of questions are not appropriate at the IME; for example, the doctor has no business asking you what you think about your diagnosis or what you think your benefits should be.