In 2018, there were over 105,000 workers’ compensation claims filed in New York.
In a perfect world, if you were one of the statistics, you’d get your claim approved with no questions asked. But unfortunately, that doesn’t always happen.
It’s now becoming increasingly common for employers to dispute workers’ comp claims, which means you’ll need to take additional steps to get your compensation. One such way is through an independent medical examination.
If you have one of these exams coming up, then you might be feeling anxious about it.
Many people are asking, “How do I prepare for an independent medical exam (IME)?” But not to worry; we’ll give you five steps on how to prepare.
Considering your current injury is pretty recent, all the details surrounding the event should still be fresh in your mind. So answering any questions about how you got injured at work should be relatively easy to answer.
However, you’ll still want to sit down and go over everything; you can do so either in your head or with pen and paper.
Think about everything that happened, both before and after your injury. Anything you can remember will help you build a stronger case.
You’ll also need to tell the doctor about any medications you’re taking, both over-the-counter and prescription.
The workers’ comp doctor will also ask you about any previous injuries you’ve had. It may seem irrelevant, but the fact is, your prior injuries may have impacted how serious your current one is.
Before your appointment, it may be a good idea to list your previous injuries, so it’s easier to recall them with the physician.
If you have previous injuries that you feel may be related to your current one, then you might be feeling a little anxious about them. Because of this, you might be tempted to lie about them to the workers’ comp doctor.
However, this is a bad idea. If they find out you’ve lied about anything, this can severely hurt your case and lead to your claim being denied anyway.
The best policy is to be honest, and upfront about everything. If you’re asked about your previous injuries, recall as many details as you can about them. It can help your credibility if you inform the physician about prior treatments that have worked for you.
Also, regarding your current injury, don’t be afraid to say whether or not it hurts when you do certain movements. If you keep saying that it hurts, no matter what test the doctor performs, they may suspect that you’re exaggerating. This can seriously damage your credibility.
You know what they say: early is on time, and on time is late.
This independent medical examination may already have you feeling on edge, so the best thing to do is to arrive at least 30 minutes early. That way, you have time to settle in the waiting room and get familiar with your surroundings.
By getting to your appointment early, not only do you give a good impression, but you’ll also have adequate time to fill out any forms the medical office may have for you.
When you give the physician enough time for your appointment, they won’t have to rush. As a result, they’ll be in a better mood for your exam.
How you act during your examination can significantly affect the outcome. For example, if you’re seen walking normally into the waiting room, but then start limping when you enter the doctor’s office, then they may suspect that you’re faking or exaggerating your injuries.
During the exam, keep a positive and respectful attitude. Make sure you’re clean and groomed, and that you’re wearing appropriate clothing. For instance, if you show up in workout clothes and you claim to be injured enough to skip work, this may discredit you.
Part of the workers’ compensation doctor‘s job is to ask you questions so they can make a proper assessment of your situation. Try not to take these questions personally, as he must ask them to all his patients.
In some cases, you may be in and out of the doctor’s exam room in a matter of minutes. But in others, you may be in there for a while.
Mentally prepare yourself for a lengthy independent medical examination. If you’re expecting to leave the medical office within a few minutes, you may find yourself getting impatient during the exam. This can cause you to become short and irritable, which won’t help your case.
Keep in mind that the length of your exam doesn’t necessarily indicate whether it’s going well for you or not. If your examination goes on for quite a bit of time, it may be that the physician is trying to gather more evidence to come to a conclusion for your claim.
Just remember to keep calm, be positive and respectful, and to be truthful in your answers. The more inconsistencies they find, the worse your credibility will be.
So long as you’re honest and have a genuine workers’ comp claim, your independent medical examination shouldn’t be too tough to get through.
Understandably, you may have some anxiety surrounding this exam, as it’s the key thing to resolving your claim and moving things along. But so long as you follow our above advice, this should be a relatively smooth process.