I’ve been injured at work – Is an Independent Medical Evaluation needed?

I’ve been injured at work – Is an Independent Medical Evaluation needed?

You’ve been injured at work and now you are told that an independent medical evaluation, or an IME, is needed to determine the extent of your injuries. An IME may be ordered by the Mississippi Workers’ Compensation Commission when there is reason to believe a physician may have incorrectly addressed the extent or duration of disability of an injured worker. Independent medical evaluations may also be used to address situations where two treating or examining physicians have differing opinions.

An administrative law judge (or “ALJ”) can order a worker to be evaluated by a doctor of the ALJ’s choice or a doctor agreed to by the parties to either obtain a competent medical opinion or act as a tiebreaker to resolve disputes stemming from differing medical opinions related to a worker’s disability or necessity of certain medical treatment.

In some cases, an ALJ may order an IME to answer questions related to causation or other issues requiring medical opinion, and the employer/carrier pays for the evaluation, even if the employer/carrier is denying compensability of the claim.

An IME is also used to gather information for the Commission to clarify or answer questions related to the injured worker’s claim. Questions are sent to the doctor conducting the IME and those responses are sent back to the ALJ and the parties. The Commission may rely on those opinions and give deference to the IME findings when there are previous differing opinions from other treating or evaluating physicians.

The thing to remember about IMEs is that they are not a bad thing. Rather, an experienced workers’ comp attorney can help you determine if an IME is necessary, and may very well recommend that an IME occur, especially if the other side has a report that does not match up with the opinion of your position. Regardless, it’s important to understand how an IME may impact your case, especially if there is difference of opinions among different doctors. At Calderon & Williams, our attorneys help injured workers throughout Mississippi, and we offer initial consultations to help guide people through the workers’ compensation process.
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