Can Workers’ Comp IME Doctor Send You Back To Work?

If you have been injured in a workplace accident, you may have already been seen by your treating physician to evaluate the nature of your injuries.  One thing that may occur is that your employer and your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance company may request that you be evaluated by a medical examiner of their choosing.  What happens if the IME (Independent Medical Exam) doctor disagrees with your doctor?  If you are facing an IME exam or an IME report has been issued that contradicts your treating physician’s findings, you may wonder what comes next in the process and what your employer can do.  This article will provide you some information you should know about whether an IME workers’ comp doctor can send you back to work.

Do I Have to Attend an IME (Independent Medical Exam)??

If you have been requested to attend an IME, you may wonder if you must attend.  The short answer is yes. 

Although you have no legal obligation to attend an IME requested by your employer or employer’s insurance, a failure to attend will often result in your employer reducing or terminating your benefits. 

It is in your best interest to attend an IME and be as truthful as possible with the examining physician about all of your symptoms, injuries, and restrictions to your daily activities.

Can an IME Physician Send You Back to Work?

Once you have been examined by an IME physician, the IME doctor will issue a report as to his or her findings regarding your injuries.  It is not uncommon for the IME report to contradict your physician’s findings in whole or in part. 

What happens if an IME doctor says in his or her report that you are cleared for work, or that you can work with restrictions?  Is this allowed?  Unfortunately, yes. 

While you are not required to return to work, your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance will typically use the findings of the IME report to stop paying benefits, and your employer may use your absence from work as a basis to terminate your employment. 

For you to fight these findings, arbitration between you and the workers’ compensation insurance is typically necessary.  Arbitration is a lengthy process that can take weeks or months to begin and will involve deposing your physician and the IME physician to determine whose report is more credible. 

This is why it is important to have a skilled New York workers’ compensation attorney to represent you on your behalf.  A workers’ comp attorney can fight to expedite the process and to dispute the IME physician’s report.

What Should I Do if the IME Report Disagrees with my Doctor’s Report?

If the IME report is in and it has cleared you for work, or work with restrictions, you may wonder if you must go back to work.  You may worry about re-injuring yourself or being terminated for not being able to work.  If the IME doctor has cleared you for work, there are a few things you should do to make sure you protect your job and your health as best as possible.

  • Contact an experienced Workers’ Compensation Attorney Right Away. A skilled New York Workers’ Compensation Attorney is knowledgeable about New York workers’ comp laws and the process involved.  A workers’ comp attorney can talk you through the process and give you recommendations for the best steps to take in every situation.
  • Take note of how much work you can do, and whether you can work. If you are able to work with some restrictions, such as light lifting, reduced movement, or time constraints, then it may be a good idea to return to work and abide by these restrictions.  This way, you will still get a paycheck if your benefits have been terminated, and you will avoid the risk of losing your job.  If you are re-injured while working, you can go back to your physician and obtain a report that will strengthen your case in any pending future proceedings related to your ability to work.  Of course, if you are unable to work at all, don’t risk re-injuring yourself by returning to work.  Consult your attorney about the best steps to take and how you can expedite the process.
  • Document any and all new or worsened injuries. If your injuries worsen, whether as a result of returning to work or conducting daily activities, seek medical attention with your treating workers comp physician so that he or she can document this.  Also, report any new or worsening injuries to your employer right away.

Contact a New York Workers’ Comp Attorney Today

If you have been injured on the job, it is in your best interest to contact a New York Workers’ Compensation Attorney as soon as possible. An expert attorney can represent you at any workers’ comp proceedings, make the most beneficial arguments on your behalf, and make sure that you are not denied the compensation that you rightly deserve for your injuries and medical care.

Don’t rely on your employer’s workers’ comp insurance company’s findings. Their obligation is to their insured, and they often do not have your best interests in mind. The sooner you contact a New York Workers’ Compensation Attorney, the more ease and success you will guarantee in your case.