A Pennsylvania worker who suffers a workplace injury or illness may be entitled to benefits through the Pennsylvania workers’ compensation system. For many claimants, however, the rules and procedures of workers’ compensation can be confusing or intimidating.
You may be concerned if you receive a notice to submit to an independent medical examination, or IME. A basic understanding of what an IME is and how it can affect your claim may ease some of that concern.
After your claim for workers’ compensation benefits is approved, you have the right to choose the doctor you wish to treat you. However, your employer or your employer’s workers’ compensation insurer has the right to request an IME. In addition, your employer has the right to ask for an IME every six months while you are receiving workers’ compensation benefits.
If you refuse to attend an IME that was requested by your employer or the insurer, they may ask a workers’ compensation judge to order you to attend the exam. At that point, if you fail to attend, your benefits may be suspended or terminated.
Although you cannot refuse an IME, you do not have to receive treatment from the doctor who performs the exam. An IME functions more like a second opinion. If you are notified that an IME has been requested, you should let your workers’ compensation attorney know immediately so that you can prepare for the examination.
Because the IME is conducted by a physician selected by your employer, the results may differ from an examination performed by your own physician. Often, an IME physician will conclude that you are not as seriously injured as your physician says you are. Likewise, an IME may conclude that your injuries have completely healed, although your own physician recommends continued treatment. If this occurs, don’t panic. Your benefits cannot be stopped based solely on the opinion of the IME physician. Only a judge can determine that your benefits should stop or be reduced. If your employer or the insurer wants to terminate or reduce your benefits, a judge will hear arguments from both your employer and your attorney before making a decision.
If you have suffered a workplace injury in Pennsylvania, you may be entitled to benefits through the Pennsylvania workers’ compensation system. Although the workers’ compensation system is intended to protect injured workers and their families, it can be difficult to navigate. If you have questions or concerns about your legal rights to compensation, contact the Worker’s Compensation at Shor & Levin, the Bulldog Lawyers, at 866-462-8553 or use our Worker’s Compensation.