Minneapolis Workers’ Comp Injury Lawyer
Independent Medical Examinations (IME) for Your Minneapolis Work Comp Injury
The first thing you should note is that the name, “independent” medical exam, can be misleading: they are called Independent Medical Examinations (IME), but they are not really “independent.” These are examinations where the workers’ compensation insurance company has hired a doctor to examine you regarding your workers compensation injury to provide the insurance company with an opinion for the insurance company, based exclusively on their doctor’s review of your medical records, history obtained from you, and physical examination.
Their doctor does not develop a doctor-patient relationship with you, nor can their doctor give you actual treatment recommendations. Work Comp insurers use this hired physician for the exclusive purpose of providing them with the medical opinion (the “evidence”) in order to deny (or very occasionally, approve) certain medical treatment or conditions. Many attorneys actually refer to IMEs as “adverse” medical examinations, or AME’s, because the doctor is hired by the insurance company to provide them with an opinion that may be adverse to your interests.
The Insurance companies are entitled to get an “independent medical examination” in any Minnesota work comp case. Minnesota Statute 176.155 permits insurance companies to schedule you and request you attend an IME. If the insurance company has not already had you attend an IME, then injured workers are generally under the obligation to attend such an exam. If you refuse, it may be a basis for the insurance company to stop paying your work comp benefits. See Minn. Stat. 176.155, Subd. 3. However, there are limitations on scheduling the exams, for example, these examinations need to be less than 150 miles from your home. See Minn. Stat. 176.155, Subd. 1. This means that if you live in Minneapolis, the insurance company may not be able to schedule you for an IME in Duluth.
What if the insurance company has already obtained an “independent medical examination,” and now they want you to attend another one? Do you have to attend a second IME, or even third IME? The answer this question becomes a little bit trickier. Minnesota statute 176.155 entitles the insurance companies to obtain hired expert opinions through these IMEs, and “at reasonable times thereafter.” This means that the insurance companies are sometimes able to obtain more than one doctor’s opinion through scheduling you for multiple IMEs. Minnesota case law confirms that insurance companies are able to obtain more than one IME from physicians of their choosing, so long as it is at reasonable times. However, this does not mean that the insurance companies are able to get as many IMEs as they desire, or get a new one just because they do not like the opinion their first hired doctor provided.
You may want to seek the advice of our workers’ compensation experts at Schmidt Salita Law Team if the workers’ compensation insurer has scheduled you for an IME. Most of the time insurance companies are scheduling an IME because they are attempting to get evidence necessary to deny medical treatment or a particular injury. It should be a red flag to you that the insurance company is looking for evidence to stop, reduce, or deny the benefits you are, or should be, receiving. Our attorneys at Schmidt Salita Law Team, our work comp experts, can advise you on what your rights are under the Workers’ Compensation Act, whether the insurance company can make you attend an IME, and whether or not we truthfully believe you may need the assistance of an attorney.
The Schmidt Salita Team Offers Contingent Fee Arrangements.
The firm offers contingent fee agreements (You don’t pay lawyers fees until you collect and then only as a percentage of the settlement). It also offers home and hospital visits to clients whose injuries present difficulty in coming to the office.
“PERSONAL INJURY WITH PERSONAL ATTENTION TO EACH CASE”.
The Schmidt Salita Law Team has locations throughout the Twin Cities metropolitan area of Minneapolis and St. Paul, as well as Minnetonka, Maple Grove, Plymouth, Osseo, Anoka, Coon Rapids, Brooklyn Center, Fridley, Blaine, Shoreview, Woodbury, Falcon Heights, Columbia Park, Stillwater, Hastings, Inver Grove, Cottage Grove, South St. Paul, Apple Valley, Eagan, Burnsville, Savage, Shakopee, Richfield, Bloomington, Chaska, Chanhassen, Edina, Eden Prairie, and Hopkins.