In Illinois, workers’ compensation law requires your employer or their insurer to pay for all reasonable medical treatment that is related to your work injury. They’re also required to pay you a portion of your lost wages if you are unable to work as a result of your work injury. Frequently, the worker and the insurance company disagree on these issues.
When the insurance company disagrees with your doctor’s stated medical opinion, they will try to dispute the opinion with one of their own. They do this by having an “independent” doctor evaluate you and go over your medical records. While technically it’s independent, it’s not always the reality. While some IME doctors remain impartial, others tend to say what the insurance company wants them to say.
You have to go to this appointment. It’s usually brief. While this is good for your convenience, it shows how silly it is that a doctor looks at you for five minutes and makes a decision about your injury and treatment. If you refuse to submit to the exam, then your benefits can be cut off.
Sometimes, you might have to go to more than one IME during the course of your claim. Often, it happens after a change in your condition or because your case has gone on for a long time. While multiple IMEs are allowed in Illinois, the insurance company can’t use them as a way to harass you. We’ve seen that happen. It’s not the norm, as it’s expensive for the insurance company because they pay for it, and your attorney should notice if there are any red flags there.
Try not to worry about an IME. If you have a credible doctor and you’ve been honest and straightforward with everything, there’s no reason the IME opinion should overrule a reasoned opinion of your own physician or specialist in the end. Hiring a good Illinois lawyer can make a difference. The arbitrator will hear both sides, but the opinion of the doctor who has seen you routinely and has much more experience with you carries weight. And many times, the IME simply confirms what your doctor has said all along.