An on-the-job injury in Massachusetts will likely qualify you for workers’ compensation. However, your employer or the insurance company will almost certainly require an Independent Medical Examination (IME).
The IME will typically take place at one of two times:
- Immediately after the injury, or;
- When the insurer believes treatment has been sufficient and is ready to terminate or reduce weekly payments.
What You Need to Know About An IME
- They are Mandatory – Massachusetts law requires that you show up for an IME when requested. If you don’t, you may lose benefits.
- Independent DOESN’T Mean Impartial – The exam is independent because the doctor has never treated you before. You don’t get to choose the doctor.
- Travel Expenses are Reimbursable – You must be at the location specified at the right time and date for your IME. However, you can recover travel expenses from the insurance company.
- Distance Must Be Reasonable – The insurance company must choose a doctor within a reasonable distance of your home.
- Written Notice is Required – You must receive written notice that specifies time, date, and location of the IME.
- Records are the Insurance Company’s Responsibility – The notice may request that you bring medical records, x-rays, and other materials with you. This is NOT required and ultimately the insurance company is responsible for providing records.
A One-Time Visit
An IME is a one-time doctor visit with the purpose of verifying injuries and treatment. Your employer or an insurance company cannot require that you treat with a particular doctor on an ongoing basis. You always have the right to choose who you treat with.
Workers’ compensation claims and IMEs are governed strictly by Massachusetts law. Failing to adhere to the procedure laid out can seriously hinder your case. Nobody wants to lose a valid compensation claim on a technicality.
Important Things to Remember
The doctor at the IME is not trying to help you make your case. In fact, it’s just the opposite. The point of an IME is to show that you have recovered from your injuries, or that you are not as injured as you claim.
Be honest during your examination. Lying to your employer or the insurance company about injuries is fraud. Be upfront and don’t try to get compensation that isn’t rightfully yours.
Failure to follow the rules laid out in Massachusetts state law can result in the rejection of your claim. While an insurance company can simply reschedule the IME as needed, you MUST attend.
Who Can Help?
Workers’ compensation lawyers in Massachusetts are not permitted to charge hourly rates or take a retainer. Instead, they must work on a contingency fee basis. This benefits workers who need representation. It means that you will not have to pay any money out of pocket to obtain legal representation after a work-related injury or illness.
An insurance company will fight your worker’s compensation claim. They will do whatever they can to minimize the amount they pay or avoid compensation altogether. Additionally, the process of claims, including the IME, can be difficult to understand. By contacting an experienced worker’s compensation lawyer before dealing with the insurance company, you can minimize your risk.
Contact us today for a free consultation about your case.