If you have been receiving workers' comp benefits for some time, you may be asked to undergo an independent medical examination. This is an important milestone in your workers' comp claim, since the results of this exam could influence your continued ability to get benefits. To help you understand and prepare for this exam, read on.
Why am I being asked to have this exam?
In some cases, the workers' comp carrier needs to gather more information about your medical condition and to gauge how much more time, if any, you are expected to need to receive benefits. The timing for this request varies; it may come soon after a more serious injury or it may occur after some time has passed for less serious, but lingering, injuries.
What happens at this exam?
The doctor performing this exam works for the workers' comp carrier, so it will not be a normal exam experience. You won't receive any treatment or prescriptions from this doctor, only an examination and sometimes some diagnostic tests will be ordered. Special attention will be paid to the body part injured in the work-related accident.
Dealing with exam
- Review your notes and paperwork about the day the injury occurred, particularly the original claim form and your medical treatment records.
- Be sure that anything you say is consistent with your previous statements, since any variation in facts could make your claim appear to be dishonest or inaccurate.
- Don't be reluctant to discuss any preexisting medical conditions that you have. Even if you were already suffering from a medical condition, if it was made worse by a work-related accident or worsened by working conditions, workers' comp should cover it.
- Make a summary of all the ways that the workplace injury is continuing to affect you. Injuries don't just affect your ability to work, but can cause a domino effect on your mental health too.
After the exam
Once the independent medical exam doctor reports the findings to the insurance carrier, you will be notified of the results shortly by mail. If you are being told to return to work and you are still suffering from your injuries, you may need the help of a workers' comp attorney. You have the right to be compensated for medical conditions caused by employment, and this compensation could include a lump sum settlement if your injury turns out to be a permanent one.