workplace injury

Independent Medical Examination

independent medical examYou have a right to an independent medical examination (IME). You may request an IME if you feel you were returned to work too soon and/or if you feel you would benefit from additional medical treatment.

To make this request, you will need to mark the Report of Claim Status/Request for Independent Medical Examination (Form 38911) accordingly. This form will be mailed to you from the insurance carrier at the time your TTD benefits are terminated. This may coincide with the time that you are also released by the doctor at maximum medical improvement. Please note that you only have seven days from the date of receipt to return this completed form to the Workers’ Compensation Board of Indiana.

The Board will review your request, consider your medical treatment and prognosis, and then likely schedule you for an IME with a doctor they have chosen. If they schedule you for an independent medical examination, the doctor they send you to will only evaluate whether or not you need additional medical treatment and whether or not you should be working given your condition.

This doctor will not do the following:

  • Prescribe you medication
  • Discuss future medical needs
  • Give you a permanent partial impairment rating

Below is a list of items you need to take to the independent medical examination:

  • Original X-Rays, MRIs, CT Scans or any other radiology film
  • Any medical records for related treatment with your personal doctor(s)

Of note, if a nurse case manager or rehabilitation nurse has been assigned to your case, he or she is not permitted to attend the independent medical examination scheduled by the Board.

The outcome of this evaluation will carry a lot of weight in the direction of your case. In other words, if the IME doctor decides that you can return to work and you need no further treatment, it will be difficult for you to prove otherwise since this is a doctor that was personally selected by the Board. Likewise, if the IME doctor indicates you need more treatment and/or that you should remain off work, the Board will likely stand behind their doctor and order that your workers’ compensation benefits will be reinstated.

Q: Who pays for the Board ordered medical evaluation?

A: Your employer or their workers’ compensation insurance carrier.

Q: I have not received a form that lets me get an independent medical examination, but I have been released from the workers’ compensation doctor. What do I do?

A: You can contact the workers’ compensation insurance carrier and ask about it. If you find out that you are not eligible for an independent medical examination through the Board, then you can seek one of your own at your own expense and try to use your doctor’s report as leverage to get your benefits reinstated. Obviously this would only happen if the doctor’s report is favorable to you. If you do seek an IME, make sure you select a doctor with an excellent reputation or the Board may discount your doctor’s opinion.

Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA)

adaIf you have a condition that significantly reduces or limits your ability to work, you may be considered disabled according to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and therefore protected by this federal law.

The ADA applies to any employer with 15 or more employees. It says that an employer cannot discriminate against workers with disabilities. This includes those who may be a candidate for a position as well as those who already hold a position, such as an injured worker who is left with a disability due to a work accident but who wants to return to his or her place of employment.

An injured worker whose work abilities have been limited by a work accident will probably be evaluated by a doctor to find out how well he or she can perform the necessary duties of the job. If the worker’s condition limits him or her from performing job tasks that are not critical to the job, then the ADA would require these tasks to be reassigned. In a similar manner, if the tasks that the worker is unable to do are critical to the job, then the ADA requires the employer to consider a reasonable accommodation that would help the worker to still complete the task. This might include special equipment or a device that relieves some of the physical nature of the worker’s job. However, the law does not clearly define this term.

Q: My employer fired me because they were afraid I would re-injure myself now that I have some permanent disabilities due to my work accident. Can I really be fired for this reason?

A: If you are someone with a qualified disability, you cannot be fired if there is no direct threat or risk of re-injury. Fear alone is not grounds for firing someone with a disability due to a workplace accident.

Q: My employer says that if I am not back to 100%, I cannot return to my job. What do I do?

A: If your employer fires you once you are done treating because you are not back to where you were before the work accident, then you may be entitled to protection under ADA. This would be true if you were being discriminated against because your disability hindered you from performing a non-essential task of the job, or if there was a way to accommodate you that was practical and realistic but which your employer did not want to do. It might be beneficial to consult with an attorney if you find yourself in this type of situation.

Q: I have more seniority than some other guys in our factory who are performing jobs that would better accommodate my disability due to a recent work accident. Doesn’t my employer have to give me their jobs?

A: Not necessarily. Accommodating a worker who may have been disabled by a work related injury is required by the ADA when reasonable accommodations exist. However, according to the ADA, reasonable accommodations do not include moving people around to open up a position or creating a new position for the newly disabled employee.

Have a question about the ADA and how it impacts you after a work injury? Call us at 317.569.9644 for a free consultation to see how we can help.