In Florida workers’ compensation cases, an independent medical examination (IME) may be necessary when there is a medical dispute between the employer/carrier and the injured employee over the major contributing cause of the injuries, the severity of the employee’s condition and the extent of medical care and treatment needed. An IME is not merely a second doctor’s opinion. The insurer might withhold authorization of medical treatment, including physical therapy, injections or surgery, and might also withhold payment of indemnity benefits or lost wages based on the IME physician’s findings and report. In some cases, workers’ compensation judges rely on the IME to form the basis of their decisions. If you disagree with the treating physician and would like to select your own IME or are faced with undergoing an IME at the request of the employer/carrier, you should contact a workers’ compensation attorney to discuss as it could have a substantial effect on your workers’ compensation claim.
Florida’s workers’ compensation statute allows for an IME to be requested either by the injured worker or by an insurance company when a dispute arises regarding the nature of the injuries and the extent to which they may impair the employee’s ability to work. If a claim is denied in whole or in part, the claimant will have the right to choose a physician to perform an IME in order to give insight into the cause of their injury. Another instance where an IME may be used is when the insurance carrier wants to argue that your injury isn’t as severe as you claim. IMEs are generally paid for by the requesting party. There are exceptions in certain situations, such as if the injured employee succeeds in recovering disputed workers’ compensation benefits or if IME costs are covered by a managed care system. Vassallo, Bilotta & Davis advances the costs of an IME for their clients that have been injured at work.
IMEs can make or break your workers’ compensation claim and insurance providers can use the information gained from an IME to dismantle your case. There are certain deadlines associated with IMEs and missing one can derail your claim and cause you to lose your benefits or to have further medical care denied. You should consult with a workers’ compensation attorney who can protect your rights. A skilled attorney also can present strong medical evidence to counter adverse findings in an IME.
Vassallo, Bilotta & Davis helps injured employees in Florida pursue their full entitlement to worker’s compensation benefits. Please call 561-471-2800 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation at one of our offices which are in West Palm Beach and Stuart.