Part of a worker’s rights after an injury on the job is to seek an Independent Medical Exam, or IME. While an employer can dictate which doctor the employee sees, the IME is intended to provide an independent assessment of the worker’s condition and/or ability to return to work.
What is an IME?
An Independent Medical Exam is one free of influence from the parties involved; the doctor who performs the IME will have no connection to the employer, the insurance carrier, the worker, and even the patient’s Iowa workers’ comp attorney in Des Moines. An IME should be as bias-free as possible.
Additionally, an IME is not one that establishes any sort of doctor-patient relationship. The exam is simply that: an exam. There is no plan for future appointments, and the evaluating doctor will not handle any of the treatments.
The Independent Medical Examiner will simply:
- assess the worker’s condition;
- give a professional opinion; and
- may recommend a treatment and care plan.
When Workers May Use an Independent Medical Exam
Under workers’ compensation in Iowa, employees have the right to seek an Independent Medical Exam in a number of situations following their work-related injuries:
- During their exams with the company-dictated doctors. Workers may choose to have independent doctors present at, or be a participant in, the initial evaluations.
- When they believe the company doctors have evaluated their conditions incorrectly or assessed them to be less severe than they actually are. Another physician may independently evaluate the condition to provide a second opinion of the condition.
- When the company doctors have approved them to return to work when they feel they are still unable. They may seek IMEs to provide second opinions regarding the status of the injuries and ability to perform job duties.
In some cases, insurance carriers may request Independent Medical Exams of their own, especially if they believe the workers are exaggerating injuries or conditions.
If an employee requests a physician present at an evaluation, it is done so at the employee’s expense. But an employee is entitled to compensation for wages if required to miss work to attend an examination at the employer’s request. These aren’t reduced disability rates either; they must be paid at full regular rate. Reasonable transportation expenses may also be reimbursed.
Meanwhile, if the employer’s physician makes an evaluation that the employee believes is too low, the employee may request an exam with a physician of his or her choosing and receive reimbursement from the employer. If unsure of a right to reimbursement, ask an Iowa worker’s comp attorney in Des Moines for clarification based on the specific case.
Help with Workers’ Compensation in Iowa: Contact a Workers’ Comp Attorney in Des Moines
Workers’ compensation laws can be confusing and overwhelming. Anyone who has been seriously hurt on the job or is experiencing difficulty with workers’ compensation in Iowa can contact a workers’ comp attorney in Des Moines for help. An attorney can help workers navigate the workers’ comp process and, if necessary, may recommend an independent medical exam be performed.