One of the critical moments during a workers comp claim is the independent medical examination. As your Miami workers’ compensation attorney will explain to you in detail, this is a mandatory step in the process. Your employer’s insurance company has the right to check if you actually sustained the injuries you claim and how severe they are.
Understandably, you are worried because you understand that the independent medical examination is not truly independent. The doctor who will give you the checkup is paid for by the insurance company. Thus, you fear that they may downplay your injuries and recommend a shorter period of time on workers’ comp. While this is not ethical, it does happen. For this reason, a Miami workers’ compensation attorney warns all clients to be very careful about what they say and do during this examination.
Can You See Your Doctor for Treatments During Workers Comp’ in Florida?
Many injured workers believe that once they have passed the independent medical examination, they can return to their own doctor for treatment. Unfortunately, it is not so. The logic is like this: since your employer’s insurance company is paying for your medical care, they have the right to select the healthcare professional who will treat you.
Of course, this does not mean that you have to get stuck with a doctor you don’t trust and who is not at all sympathetic to your predicament. Florida workers’ compensation rules state that you have the right to make a written request to change your doctor once during the treatment.
The insurance company has five (5) days to recommend a new doctor. If they don’t, then you can choose who will treat you for the remainder of the time you’re out on workers’ comp. However, this almost never happens, so you will most likely have to see another doctor appointed by the insurer.
Preparing for the Independent Medical Examination
Before you can worry about who will treat your injuries, your workers’ comp claim must be approved. And the independent medical examination weighs heavily in the insurer’s decision.
As any Miami workers’ compensation attorney knows, doctors are not always unbiased. And if you are also unhelpful or make other mistakes, the healthcare professional may issue a report that is not at all favorable to your claim. In other words, how you act during the examination is extremely important for a favorable outcome.
Here are the most important things to do before and during the independent medical examination.
1. Go Over the Details of the Workplace Injury
You should spend time thinking carefully about how you got injured on the job. During the independent medical examination, the doctor will ask you questions like:
- What exactly were you doing just before the accident?
- Where did you feel the pain?
- Did you hear a popping noise?
- Were you wearing personal protective equipment?
- When did you first seek medical care?
You should be able to give clear answers, without contradicting yourself or appearing to think hard. For this reason, you should spend the day before the examination remembering the entire sequence of events. Also, look over the medical records to understand what kind of injury or condition you were diagnosed with.
2. Arrive for the Appointment Early
Being on time is always a sign of courtesy. Consider arriving about 30 minutes earlier for your independent medical examination. You will have some documents to fill out. Plus, you will also have the time to relax and appear calm during the examination.
Some doctors become suspicious of injured workers who are nervous during the examination. This may make them even more biased against an injured employee.
3. Have Someone Present During the Independent Medical Examination
Your Miami workers’ compensation attorney will recommend you bring a trusted friend or family member with you. You should insist that they be present during the examination. The doctor cannot deny you this request.
This friend or family member will be a valuable witness to the entire procedure. If it is necessary to challenge the report issued after the independent medical examination, you will need all the evidence you can get to support your request.
Ideally, you should find a trusted person with a background in the healthcare field – nurse, doctor, paramedic, etc. If your workers’ comp claim is denied, they may serve as an expert witness during the appeal.
4. Know That You Are Being Watched
Every move you make and every word you say will be monitored from the moment you arrive at the premises where your independent medical examination will take place. The staff will analyze how you get out and back in the car, how you walk up and down the stairs, how you sit down, etc.
Any kind of inconsistency between your movements and the injuries you report will be noted. Thus, do not strive to correct a limp or appear too cheerful. On the other hand, do not try to exaggerate the impact of your injuries.
5. Be Careful What You Say to the Examining Doctor
There is a saying – loose lips sink ships. This is unfortunately true for injured workers who disclose too much information during the independent medical examination. You do not have to give your entire medical history to the doctor. You should not discuss any aspects related to your workers’ comp claim.
All you have to do is answer the questions honestly and let the doctor examine you.
6. Do Not Miss Your Independent Medical Examination
We left the most important piece of advice for last: do not, under any circumstances, miss your appointment with the doctor appointed by the insurance company. This is one of the biggest mistakes – because it will give the insurer the grounds to deny your workers comp claim.
A Miami Workers’ Compensation Attorney Will Help You at Every Step!
Workers’ Compensation Lawyers Coalition is your ally if you need to file a workers comp claim. We know all the ins and outs of the law and how insurance companies try to deny legitimate claims. Also, we know that you may make serious mistakes during the time until your claim is approved.
For this reason, we advise you to come to us for a free case review as soon as possible after your workplace accident. If your case has merits and we accept to represent you, we will explain to you what to do during the entire process – including the independent medical examination.
Call us at 786-686-2857 and let an experienced lawyer evaluate your workers’ comp case!