Minnesota Independent Medical Examination Process: What You Need to Know
In Minnesota, as in many other states, one necessary part of the process for claiming wage loss benefits is the independent medical examination (IME). An IME impacts the outcome of your workers’ compensation claim, so an injured employee must understand what it entails and how to approach it effectively.
As such, we want to arm you with a comprehensive understanding of Minnesota’s independent medical examinations and offer practical tips for handling them so you can confidently approach your IME and increase your chances of a favorable outcome in your workers’ compensation case.
What is an Independent Medical Examination?
An Independent Medical Examination (IME) is a required medical evaluation conducted by a physician not involved in your ongoing medical care. This physician is considered “independent” because they have no prior relationship with you and are not responsible for your treatment.
The findings of the IME can significantly influence the benefits an injured worker can receive, such as medical treatment coverage, wage replacement, and disability compensation.
In Minnesota, the insurance company or your employer selects the IME physician.
Often people think an independent medical examination is genuinely independent, but that is not the case. An independent medical examination is an adverse examination. It is an examination bought and paid for by the employer and the insurer.
It is important to remember that the medical examiner does not have a patient relationship with you like your treating doctor and is there to evaluate your work-related injuries claim.
What Is the Purpose of Independent Medical Exams?
The main objective of an IME is to provide another opinion regarding your injury and its impact on your ability to work. The IME physician will evaluate your medical condition, review your medical records, and determine the extent of your injury, including any permanent disability, if applicable.
When Is an Independent Medical Examination Required?
An IME may be conducted at your employer’s request at various stages of your workers’ compensation claim process. Some common reasons for an IME include:
- Clarifying the cause of your injury and its relation to your work.
- Assessing the appropriateness of your medical treatment.
- Determining your work restrictions and ability to return to work.
- Evaluating the extent of any permanent disability.
Your Rights Regarding the Independent Medical Exam
Understanding your rights during the IME process is essential, as this knowledge can help ensure a fair and unbiased evaluation.
Compensation for Wages Lost and Travel Expenses
If you need to take time off from work to attend the IME, your employer should pay lost wages resulting from your attending the examination. Make sure to keep a record of the time taken off and any related documentation from your employer.
You are also entitled to reimbursement for reasonable travel expenses, such as mileage, parking fees, and public transportation costs. Keep a detailed record of your receipts to submit for payment.
Right to an Accurate Evaluation
The physician should base their assessment on the information provided, including your medical records, injury history, and examination. If you believe that the IME report is inaccurate or biased, discuss your concerns with your attorney, who can help you address the issues and, if necessary, challenge the findings.
Right to a Copy of the IME Report
Finally, you have the right to obtain a copy of the IME report. This allows you to review the physician’s findings, discuss them with your worker’s compensation lawyers, and address any discrepancies or concerns that may arise.
Tips for a Successful Independent Medical Exam
A well-prepared approach to your IME can significantly impact the outcome of your workers’ compensation claim. Here are some steps to ensure you are ready for your independent medical exam.
Obtain Relevant Medical Records
Gather all your medical records related to your injury, including reports from your primary care physician, diagnostic tests, and other relevant documentation. Review these records to familiarize yourself with the details of your medical history.
Contact your treating physician or medical provider to request corrections or additions if you notice any missing information or inaccuracies.
Document Your Injuries and Symptoms
Keep a detailed journal of your injury, symptoms, and how they affect your daily life. Include photographs, especially if the area has visible swelling, bruising, or scarring.
Exaggerating or minimizing your injuries can damage your credibility with the doctor, employer, and insurer, which can, in turn, impact your worker’s compensation case.
Mentally Prepare for the Reality of Adverse Examinations
Many employees feel frustrated that the doctor conducting the exam is not their treating doctor and is instead chosen by the insurance company.
It’s an understandable emotion, as these adverse examinations can feel confrontational. However, it is imperative that while you’re being examined, you treat the doctor with respect and are cooperative, even if you have concerns or disagreements.
Punctuality is crucial. Arriving late can inadvertently influence the doctor’s opinion of your willingness to cooperate with the process and possibly lead to rescheduling. If you arrive even a few minutes late, the appointment may be canceled and you may be charged a cancellation fee.
If possible, arrive at the doctor’s office a few minutes early with all your relevant documents organized and readily available.
When you receive notice that you are scheduled for an independent medical examination, it is essential to remember that you need to show up on time and that you do not miss your independent medical examination.
Refusal to attend your appointment may result in the employer and insurer filing to discontinue your work compensation benefits, so you must attend on time.
Don’t wait to get an attorney involved if you have a Minnesota workers’ compensation claim. The process can be complex, and you want to be sure you receive the full benefits to which you are entitled. Contact Meuser, Yackley & Rowland, P.A. for a free, confidential, no-obligation consultation and claim evaluation. At Meuser, Yackley & Rowland, we keep our clients informed of the process as well as what to expect each step of the way. Call us today at 1-877-746-5680.