What to know about the independent medical exam

Workers who apply for workers’ compensation benefits in Minnesota may need to go through an Independent Medical Examination. It is true that not all applicants receive a notice to attend an IME. Those with relatively small and straightforward claims have a greater likelihood of a quick approval.

On the other hand, if the insurer does not resolve your claim within a few months, it may intend to deny it or to dispute the amount of the claim. When insurance companies schedule an IME, they usually aim to gather information to help them substantiate an eventual denial.

Mandatory examination

Minnesota law generally does require you to comply with an IME notice. Failing to show up can give the insurer ammunition to claim you did not cooperate and to cut off benefits.

Purpose of an IME

In most cases, the point of the IME will not be to show you were not injured. However, insurers often try to argue claimants suffer from less severe injuries than claimed or that they do not need particular treatments. They may dispute your treating physician’s predictions about your future ability to perform work functions.

Preparing yourself

You may assume you cannot do much to prepare for an IME. However, you can strengthen your claim by keeping your regular doctor’s appointments and complying with your doctor’s instructions.

The IME physician will not simply examine you. He or she may ask you questions and make observations. Even things you casually mention in conversation can count against you when included in the physician’s official report. Thus, you should not downplay your conditions or put a brave face on it, as many people tend to do when someone asks how they are holding up.

The insurer’s obligations

The insurance company must pay for your travel expenses for attending the IME. They must also choose a location within 150 miles of where you live, unless you already travel over 150 miles away for treatment or no appropriate specialist is available at a close distance.

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