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Workers’ comp: what is an independent medical examination?

Workers’ compensation exists for your benefit. When you suffer a work-related injury, rather than giving you the option of suing your employer, New York uses workers’ compensation to ensure you receive the medical care you need and to recover any lost wages. But not every aspect of the system and process is on your side.

Independent medical examinations

As a general rule, when you’re injured at work and need medical care, New York allows you to choose your own doctor to receive treatment. There are some limitations but, for the most part, it’s up to you. But sometimes, you may be required to undergo an independent medical examination (IME) after you’ve already been seen and diagnosed by your doctor.

IMEs are made at the request of the insurance company. When an IME is required, the doctor you see will be chosen by the insurance company. The IME is requested because the insurance company wants to double-check your doctor’s initial diagnosis – the severity of your injury and that its cause was truly related to your job.

What’s at stake in an IME?

Although an IME doctor may be unbiased, it’s best to assume they do not have your best interests at heart. The insurance company is the one who hires them and they don’t want to pay out any more workers’ compensation than they have to. As a result, although your personal physician’s primary concern is your health and well-being, the IME doctor’s primary concern may be to find flaws in your personal physician’s diagnosis.

Although you have to attend an IME when requested, it doesn’t mean you have to do it alone. You have rights. If you’re in any way concerned about the fairness of your treatment, speak to an attorney who is experienced in New York Workers’ Compensation Law. They can help to ensure that the system works for you like it’s supposed to.

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