Injured worker being assisted by a female doctor

Workers’ Compensation Medical Assessment: What to Expect 

Harris & Associates, P.C., L.L.O. Aug. 10, 2023

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, private industry workers reported approximately 2.6 million nonfatal work-related illnesses and injuries in 2021. In Nebraska, employees who suffer work-related injuries and occupational diseases may be eligible to pursue benefits by filing workers' compensation claims. Upon filing a claim, the workers' comp insurer may request an independent medical examination (IME) to verify the employee's injuries or disability. However, it is important to know what to expect during an IME in order not to hurt your case inadvertently. 

For over 50 years, we have been giving personalized guidance and compassionate representation to employees in their workers' compensation claims. Our seasoned Nebraska worker's compensation attorneys can explain what to expect during an independent medical assessment and work intelligently to recover your workers' compensation benefits. We're proud to serve clients across Omaha, Dodge, Sarpy, Douglas, and Lancaster County, Nebraska. 

What Is an Independent Medical Exam?

An independent medical examination (IME) is an assessment of an injured or ill employee performed by another doctor – who hasn't treated the patient previously. The aim of the IME is to get an unbiased opinion of the employee's injury, medical condition, or disability and answer questions about their workers' compensation claims. Additionally, the IME doctor will: 

  • Evaluate your medical history and your present medical condition. 

  • Examine the magnitude of your injury, disability, or medical condition. 

  • Decide the appropriate treatment or medical procedures that you need. 

  • Determine your loss of earning capacity or ability to continue working. 

  • Provide a comprehensive medical report and make recommendations to the insurance provider or the court. 

The person who chooses the IME will depend on the surrounding circumstance of the case and the jurisdiction. 

Do I Get to Choose the Doctor I See?

According to Nebraska's Workers' Compensation Act, the IME doctor can be appointed in two ways: 

  • Through an agreement by the parties – employee and worker's compensation insurer. 

  • By the court – to get a report and recommendation about a medical dispute in the worker's comp claim. 

There are specific rules and procedures regarding how independent medical exams are conducted in Nebraska. An experienced worker's compensation attorney can tell you about what to expect during the IME and help protect your rights. 

What Should I Expect During the Assessment?

Here are some of the things to expect during an independent medical examination: 

  • The IME doctor will review your medical report and history. 

  • The IME doctor will interview you to learn more about the workplace incident, injury, and your medical condition. 

  • The IME doctor will ask you various questions about your condition, whether you need further treatment, if you have a permanent disability, and when you'll likely be able to return to work. 

  • The IME doctor will review other medical records and documentation provided in support of your claims. 

  • During the IME, the doctor will examine your general appearance, any signs of deception, objective and subjective manifestations of injury, and other contributing factors. 

At the end of the medical assessment, the IME doctor will prepare a report and make recommendations to the workers' compensation insurer or court. 

What If I Disagree With the Doctor's Report?

However, if you believe that the report provided by the IME doctor is unfair, you need to notify your attorney immediately. Essentially, you need to focus more on the treatment recommendations of your personal doctor and work on achieving full recovery after your injury. On the other hand, your attorney can dispute the IME doctor's report and recommendations, provide additional evidence and documentation to support your injuries, and help seek your rightful compensation. 

Tips For Your Visit

Here are some insightful tips to help with your visit to the IME doctor: 

  • Arrive for the medical assessment as early as possible. 

  • Give brief and consistent answers to any question the IME doctor asks you. 

  • Provide an accurate description of your medical condition, pains, and limitations to the IME physician. 

  • Gather and document copies of any form or document you fill during the medical exam. 

  • Remain consistent in all your actions. For instance, do not run from your motor vehicle and then limp during the assessment. 

  • Do not exaggerate your injuries or act in a different way before and during the medical assessment. 

A practiced lawyer can prepare you extensively for the medical assessment, walk you through the whole procedure, and help negotiate a fair settlement with your workers' compensation insurer. 

Understand Your Rights and Options

Generally, a medical assessment can determine the extent of your injuries and answer questions about your health condition for workers' compensation purposes. Due to the huge significance of the IME on the outcome of your workers' comp case, working with an experienced workers' compensation attorney is beneficial for clear legal guidance and to protect your rights. 

At Harris & Associates, P.C., L.L.O., we have the diligence and expertise to help injured employees in their workers' compensation claims. Our trusted attorneys can help file your workers' compensation claims, prepare you diligently for the IME exam, and improve your prospects of getting the most favorable outcome. In addition, we will advocate for your best interests, attempt to recover the maximum available benefits or help file an appeal if your claims are denied. 

Contact us at Harris & Associates, P.C., L.L.O., today to arrange a case assessment with dedicated workers' compensation lawyers. Leave the worrying to our dependable team. We proudly serve clients across Omaha, Dodge, Sarpy, Douglas, and Lancaster County, Nebraska.