Independent Medical Exams
During the course of your workers’ comp claim, you may be required to complete an independent medical exam (IME) conducted by a doctor other than your primary provider. The purpose of this exam is for L&I to get an expert opinion regarding your medical condition. However, independent medical examiners sometimes misdiagnose a patient or mischaracterize a workplace injury as a preexisting condition.
Independent medical examinations are usually requested by the insurance company, the employer, the legal counsel, Labor & Industries, a court, or your doctor. Insurance companies and employers are legally allowed to require you to attend an independent medical exam. They want to find out whether your injuries are the direct result of a compensable event.
What Would House Bill 1068 Allow If Passed?
House Bill 1068 would allow independent medical exams to be recorded in Washington State. The bill, sponsored by Rep. Dan Bronoske (D–Lakewood), states that the “worker has the right to record the audio, video, or both, of all examinations ordered…or by the board of industrial insurance appeals.” The only exceptions to this proposal would be examinations conducted by a neuropsychologist.
In addition to the above, the bill goes on to say that the worker is responsible for paying any associated costs of the recording. A copy of the recording must be provided to L&I or the self-insured employer within 14 days of receiving that request.
Without recorded documentation, the situation becomes a matter of the IME examiner’s word against the worker’s. L&I has been using IMEs for decades to build a case against claimants whom they don’t believe, or they simply don’t like. If you received a letter that you’ve been scheduled for an IME, we strongly recommend consulting an attorney prior to attending the appointment.
When You Should Contact An Attorney
Once an L&I claims manager orders an independent medical examination to fight your claim, you should immediately contact an L&I attorney. They can identify any tests or procedures that aren’t appropriate to the IME counsel, and counsel you on risky or unfavorable subjects you should avoid discussing during the exam.
If you would like confidential advice and professional consultation before your IME, we can provide you with essential tips. The L&I attorneys at Emery Reddy have successfully prepared hundreds of clients for their IMEs and have over 15 years of experience handling L&I claims, employment law cases, and third-party injury claims. Speak to an Intake Specialist today to learn how we can help you get the workers’ compensation benefits you deserve.