What Should I Know Before I Attend a Workers’ Compensation Independent Medical Exam?
You’ve received notice that you need to go to a doctor you don’t know—a doctor you did not choose—for a medical exam related to your workers’ compensation claim. This may leave you anxious, confused, and with many questions that need answering.
An independent medical exam is a doctor’s appointment that either your employer or your employer’s workers’ compensation insurer requests that you attend. Typically, an independent medical exam will be requested soon after you are initially hurt, when your employer decides that it is time for you to come back to work, or when the insurance company decides that it is time to reduce or end your workers’ compensation benefits.
While the term “independent medical exam” implies that the doctor will be independent, the term is misleading. The doctor that will perform your workers’ compensation independent medical examination in Virginia will be chosen by the insurance company and paid for by the insurance company.
If the insurance company, or your employer, wants you to attend an independent medical exam, then you must receive prior written notice of the exam. This notice must include:
- The date and time of the exam
- The location of the exam
- The name of the doctor who will be performing the exam
You are required to attend the exam. However, the exam must be within a reasonable distance from your home and you must be reimbursed for all of your travel expenses.
Many people are anxious any time that they go to the doctor. However, going to a doctor that you didn’t choose can be even more stressful. Knowing what to expect may make the whole situation a little bit easier.
Most independent medical exams are like other doctors’ appointments. Some time will be spent talking about your medical history and your current symptoms before a physical exam is performed. During your appointment, you should consider:
- Being honest and forthcoming about all of your symptoms. Do not exaggerate or embellish your symptoms. Instead, explain what is going on with you in a truthful and concise way.
- Making sure the doctor takes the time to get a full understanding of your medical situation. You have the right to provide the doctor with the information that the doctor needs.
- Taking someone with you to the appointment. This could be a friend or relative, for example, who may provide emotional support and who can take notes during the appointment.
- Not asking the doctor for medical advice. You can continue to get this advice from your own physician.
- Always being polite. While an independent medical exam is not enjoyable, being rude will not help your claim.
Immediately after the exam, you should write down details from the appointment. This may include the amount of time that you spent with the physician, how long the physician took getting to know your medical history and symptoms, how long the physician took performing a physical exam, and the names of anyone else who was present for the exam.
Additionally, you may want to see your own doctor on the same day or within a few days of seeing the independent medical exam physician so that your doctor can document your symptoms and perform a physical exam around the same time and so that you can have this evidence considered in your workers’ comp claim.
After your independent medical exam, the doctor who performed the exam should write a report summarizing the appointment and the physician’s findings.
Protect Your Rights with the Help of a Virginia Workers’ Compensation Attorney
You may have no choice but to comply with the request for an independent medical exam if you want to continue to receive workers’ compensation benefits. However, it is important to remember that you:
Have the right to continue seeing the doctors you choose for treatment. An independent medical exam is supposed to be a one-time visit to determine what injuries you have and to review your treatment plan. It is not supposed to be an ongoing doctor patient relationship.
Have the right to work with a workers’ compensation attorney to make sure that you get the fair benefits that you deserve after a workplace injury. A lawyer can make sure that all of your rights are protected during the independent medical exam process and throughout your workers’ comp claim.
To learn more about protecting your rights, please contact us today to schedule a free consultation. Our workers’ comp lawyers are here to help you.