There’s no question that you are injured — and no question that the injury happened at work. Why, then, is the Texas Division of Workers’ Compensation (DWC) asking you to go to see an unfamiliar doctor for an “independent medical exam (IME)?”
When you’ve done everything that’s been asked of you, kept all your doctor’s appointments and filled out every form you’ve been sent, this can be confusing. However, the explanation is usually pretty simple.
Your employer or the DWC would like to limit their expenses
An IME is mandatory when ordered by the DWC, so you don’t really have an option, but you should be aware of the usual objectives. Generally speaking, injured employees are required to have an IME when:
- Their claim is getting too expensive and the DWC would like to justify putting them back to work as soon as possible.
- Their treating physician has indicated a level of impairment that the DWC is questioning.
- The DWC is trying to limit their benefits or end their claim entirely.
Independent medical exams are also sometimes ordered when a worker has been left with permanent disabilities or injuries. The DWC may be seeking to obtain a different injury rating from the IME to reduce what the worker is owed.
How do you protect yourself when you can’t just refuse to attend an IME? You plan ahead: Take your medical records with you, be very clear about your condition, your treatment and your limitations. Consider taking a close friend or relative with you to the appointment so that someone else is in the room with you and the doctor (since that may encourage the doctor to be on their best behavior).
Finally, if you aren’t getting a fair shake from the DWC, it may be time to seek experienced legal assistance with your claim.