Last Updated: November 30, 2021

What Is An IME? How Do I Prepare For An IME In A Workers Comp Case?

what is an ime

Have You Been Told You Have An IME?  Want to Know What Is An IME And What To Do (And Not To Do) At Your IME?  Keep Reading!

If you have been told that you are scheduled for an IME, is is smart to want to know what it is, how it is done, and what YOU can do to ensure that you do and say the right thing.  This increases your chance at a good outcome in your Workers Comp case.

An IME (or Independent Medical Examination) is an examination you are required to go to under Illinois Workers Compensation law.  (The laws of others states vary.)  At an IME, you go to a doctor the Company or the Workers Compensation Insurance company chooses.  The doctor interviews you briefly, examines you, and writes a report.  The main purpose of an IME is to see if you are telling the truth about your injuries and their severity.  So make sure your remember two things: (1) the IME doctors is on the Company's side, not yours; and (2) tell the 100% percent truth about your injuries and do not exaggerate your pain.  If you remember these two things, you have the best chance at a good outcome in your Workers Compensation case.

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What Is An Independent Medical Examination? 

IME stands for Independant Medical Examination.  Even though it has the word "Independent" in it, do not be fooled.  The Workers Compensation insurance company will choose a doctor who is friendly to them to examine you and write a report.  And their purpose is to cut off your benefits and decrease the value of your case.  They choose doctors who practice but who want  you case to get beat.

Insurance companies tend to choose from the group of doctors who cut off injured workers' benefits and treatment. This way, the insurance company saves money on your Workers Comp claim.  But you, the injured worker, ends up on the short end of the stick.

You are required by law to go to the IME and cooperate with the doctors' examination of you.  If you fail to go to the appointment or cooperate, then Workers Comp can cut off your pay and medical treatment.  So you have to go.

What Do I Need To Know?

First, the doctors is not on your side. Whether the IME doctor acts nice or acts like a jerk, it doesn't matter.  They have been hired by Workers Comp insurance to lower the value of your case.  If the doctors do not help the insurance company, then the insurance company stops hiring that doctor.  So it is very likely that the doctor you are going to see is financially motivated to find a problem with your case or your medical treatment.

Second, exaggerating you pain is the worst thing you can do.  The physical exam they give you has a number of tests in it to tell whether you are telling the truth.

In other words, you might think that a particular movement is testing your legs when it is actually testing your lower back.  If you say you have lower back pain in one test but not in another, the doctor will say you are lying or exaggerating your pain.  This can kill your Workers Comp case.

That's why I tell all of my work injury clients two things before an IME:

  • Don't talk too much and keep your answers short; and
  • DO NOT lie or exaggerate your symptoms or pain during the exam.  Be 100% truthful. If you exaggerate, you     can lose your case.
What Happens During the Exam?

You have to go the IME doctor's office.  If it is far away, the Company has to pay you a travel fee to get to and from the appointment.

Then the doctor ususally asks you questions.  Some doctors ask very few question, and some ask a lot.  Make sure you keep your answers truthful because they ask questions for one reason: to try to get you to lie and catch you.  So just tell the 100% truth.

Then, the doctor does a physical examination of you.  Some exams are very short. Others are quite long.  Either way, do not exaggerate symptoms.  The point of the exam is to make it seem like you are not being truthful. So beat them at their own game by beings 100% truthful.

What Happens After?

After your IME exam, the doctor writes a report.  Insurance companiess usually want the doctor to say one of three things:

  • You aren't hurt.
  • You are hurt but you are better now and can go back to work.
  • You got hurt but it was not related to work activities.

All of these positions mean the Company can try to send you back to work or perhaps fire you and cut off your benefits.  A good Workers Compensation lawyer can help you avoid that outcome.  In fact, getting a good lawyer BEFORE you have an IME is your best protection.

What If I Got A Bad Report In My Workers Comp Case?

Even if you do a great job, doctors can still spin the exam in favor of the Company and against you.  Sometimes, this means that the IME doctor out and out lies about what happened at the exam.

If this happens, your lawyer will interview you closely and we may have to fight it at trial.  Or it might be that the Judge or Arbitrator in the Workers Comp case will trust the treating doctor over the IME doctor.  Basically, you are in for a fight if you get a bad IME report.

Is It Possible To Get A GOOD Outcome or GOOD Report?

Yes, and it does happen. In my law firm, after I explain the above information to my clients about how IME's work, they do a good job.  And if the IME doctor is basically honest, he or she will say that my client has a good case.

If that happens, the case will often settle and I can get my client's benefits reinstated.

So obviously, IME's are pretty important to make sure you get all of the benefits you deserve after a work injury.

Should I Talk To A Workers Comp Lawyer?

To be perfectly honest, when an injured worker gets scheduled for an IME in Workers Comp, it usually means the Company is trying to fire the worker or cut off their benefits.  That's why it is a good idea to hire a competent Workers Comp lawyer BEFORE your IME.

But even if you do not do that, talking to a Workers Compensaation lawyer after your IME is still a great way to protect your case value and vastly increaese your chance to win your case.

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I hope this article cleared up your questions about what is an IME.

I look forward to hearing from you if I can be of assistance to you and your family if you have been hurt at work, and what I can do to help.

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Scott DeSalvo, Injury Lawyer - 312-500-4500


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