What is an IME?

Picture of By Joshua B. Goldberg
By Joshua B. Goldberg

Workers' Compensation & Personal Injury Attorney

Image: What is an IME? (Independent Medical Examination)
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What is an IME?

What is an IME? (Independent Medical Examination) | PA Workers' Comp Attorney Explains

In today’s blog, we’re going to answer the question “What is an IME” and explain how it can affect your Pennsylvania workers’ compensation case. An IME can play an important role in your workers’ comp case, and can directly impact the amount of benefits you receive, and/or if you’re eligible to receive benefits.

So, to answer the question:

An IME is an “Independent Medical Examination” – An independent medical examination is a medical evaluation that is requested and paid for by your employer or your employers insurance company to have you examined by a doctor of their choosing to determine your status.

That status can be anything from “fully recovering from your injuries”, to “being capable of returning to work”, or maintaining the status quo. Depending on the status that the doctor determines, your workers’ compensation benefits can be suspended or terminated by a judge.

When can my employer request an IME?

The Workers’ Compensation Act entitles an employer and/or insurance company to 2 independent medical examinations per year.

So, up to twice a year your employer can request that you get an examination from a doctor that they choose to determine your status related to your work injury.

What is the IME doctor looking for?

Simply put, the doctor chosen by your employer to handle your independent medical examination is looking for reasons to send you back to work or say that you are recovered from your work injury.

Sometimes the examination will go your way, but often times they do not. There is no doctor patient relationship created. The chosen doctor is not responsible for treatment or care, and is not subject to malpractice.

They all generally evaluate patients for alleged symptom magnification. If the doctor says you have recovered from your work injury or you can go back to work, you may find yourself in the litigation process.

Do I have to attend my IME?

YES! You must attend your IME!

If you fail to attend an independent medical examination, a petition will be filed to force you to attend. If you fail to attend again after being ordered to do so by a judge, your benefits can be suspended/stopped.

It’s very important to remember that you must attend your IME.

What happens after my IME?

What happens after your examination will depend on the status that the doctor determines for you. After completion of the IME, it is not uncommon to receive a Notice of Ability to Return to Work.

This is a specific form that the insurance company is required to provide you with if the IME doctor or your treating physician has determined that you are recovered from any or all of you injuries and/or are able to return to work.

If you receive this form, you should contact a workers’ compensation attorney!

Usually this form means that a petition will soon be filed, or some other action is going to be taken by your employer, such as an offer to return to work or the filing of a petition to stop your benefits.

A Notice of Ability to Return to Work may also lead to you being contacted by a vocational counselor.

Contact a Workers’ Compensation Attorney

We hope you found this blog helpful in understanding the basics of an IME, or an independent medical examination. If you have more questions, or need further help with your workers’ compensation case in Pennsylvania, reach out to us today and schedule your free consultation.

Attorney Joshua B. Goldberg has over 24 years of experience in dealing with workers’ compensation cases in PA. Reach out, schedule your free consultation, and attorney Goldberg with help you get your PA workers’ comp case in order.