An independent medical examination (IME) is when an employer or insurer hires an “independent” medical professional to assess your work injury. These doctors are paid, (often quite handsomely), by the employer/insurer to produce a report detailing their opinions about your work injury for the use of the employer/insurer. These doctors are not working on your behalf and do not provide you with any actual treatment. The examination does not create any kind of physician-patient relationship between you and the examining doctor.
Minnesota law holds that employer/insurers are entitled to IMEs for any claimed work injuries. A compensation judge can suspend benefits where an employee refuses to comply with a “reasonable” request for an IME. Additionally, the judge can order a credit to the employer/insurer for the costs of a missed IME against future benefits. However, the employer/insurer cannot schedule an IME more than 150 miles from an employee’s home and must reimburse the employee for reasonable travel expenses related to attending the IME.
In our experience at Teplinsky Law Group, we find that these examinations are rarely “independent.” Instead, they are almost always used to try to deny or restrict injured workers’ benefits. If you have been hurt at work, and your employer or their insurance company is telling you to attend an IME, we recommend that you get legal representation as soon as possible. Call us at 612-465-0320 to schedule a free consultation if you have questions about an IME or any other issue related to work injuries.