In most cases the answer is YES! However, you should NEVER, EVER go into an independent medical examination believing you are meeting with a doctor who cares about helping to relieve your pain or discomfort. On a very rare occasion that does occur; I’ve actually seen it happen. However, assume the examination is ADVERSE and the doctors job is to find a way to medically justify denying you a benefit or treatment you believe is extremely important to you recovery.
As a former insurance company attorney I have schedule hundreds of “independent medical examinations” for injured workers. The term independent medical examination is not always accurate. Though there are many reputable doctors who will perform a thorough examination and may on occasion write a neutral report, they understand that the insurance company and defense attorney are the referral source to future business. If they disappoint them too often they are blacklisted and I have seen it happen!!! Many defense attorneys believe it’s their job to chose a ” doctors who will do and say almost anything” to help them win!
When I worked as a defense attorney I thought having a neutral independent doctor was truly important. It helped me assess and fully understand the injured worker’s claim. By choosing a neutral physician I also hoped my client would have credibility before the compensation judge should we go to hearing. Later in my career as a defense attorney I began to get flack from a kool-aide drinking “old time” defense lawyer who chastised me for choosing these independent physicians and telling me I needed to get on board and work with the “adverse examiners”. Despite the fact that this attorney had only gone to a full hearing a handful of times in the past decade, he was going to try his hardest to win a case at almost any cost and thought I should too! This didn’t sit well with my years of experience and the reputation I developed. This was one of the reasons I now represent only injured workers and share these stories.
An employer and workers compensation insurer have the right to have you seen for an independent medical examination or adverse examination regardless of whether your claim is admitted or denied. They need to reimburse you for your expenses and must schedule it within 150 miles of your home. Keep in mind that this doctor is not nor will he ever be your treating physician. There is no doctor patient confidentiality, everything you tell the doctor will be shared with the employer and insurer. Sometimes the examinations last a few minutes and other times they can take close to an hour with an extensive physical examination and questions.
You will usually receive the report as an attachment to a service of Maximum Medical Improvement or a Notice of Intent to Discontinue Befits in the mail. As this is the goal of the adverse examination, your medical and/or wage loss benefits will likely be stopped as the result of your “independent medical examination”.
As a defense attorney I understand the flaws in these reports and the mistakes that can be made in preparation for the same. As your attorney I will surgically dissect these reports and the accompanying letters providing the physician with “foundation” or their opinion. My job is to look for contradictory medical evidence and obtain an opinion from your own treating physician and if necessary a truly independent doctor. If you would like to discuss your claim in more detail, feel free to contact me directly. All calls are usually returned within a few hours. Please understand that our conversation is FREE and if you retain me as your attorney there are no direct payments by you EVER. Our fees are paid directly by the insurance companies after obtaining benefits for you.