I checked the search terms that lead to clicks on my blog. The most popular search from the last month was something along the lines of “The IME says I can work, but I don’t feel I can.”
It’s not surprising that people want to learn about how to handle that. We get a variation of that question from callers all of the time. I have a few thoughts on this subject.
1. This happens all the time. IME doctors are quite often hired guns or willing to say what the insurance company wants to say. So don’t panic if your doctor says you can’t work and the IME doctor says you can.
2. If the IME doctor says you can work and your doctor says you can’t, you have two choices. You can either try to go back to work and hope you don’t get injured worse or take your case to Arbitration.
3. If you go back and get hurt worse or can’t do the work after a good faith effort, you should end up back on TTD. That doesn’t mean it will happen. It really varies case to case. You still might have to go to trial.
4. If you are going to trial, it’s likely your lawyer will have to take the deposition of your doctor and the IME doctor. How quickly those things can get scheduled determines when you will get your day in court.
5. The trial comes down to your credibility and that of the doctors. In most cases, if the Arbitrator thinks you are honest and the law is otherwise on your side, if your doctor is also credible they will choose their opinion over that of the IME. There is no guarantee of that of course.
6. You can get depositions scheduled and in to court much faster if you have a case on file with the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission before the IME goes against you.
7. If the IME is clearly a hack, the insurance company can be punished for denying benefits through a penalties and fees petition.
In the end I always tell people to think of their health first. I do get that some people can’t survive without a TTD check, but I also don’t want to see a back injury turn in to a permanent disability. We go through options with people on a case by case basis to make sure we help them figure out what’s best for them.
Bottom line is this happens all of the time. Don’t panic if it happens to you. Educate yourself and find out your options and a good strategy. If you would like to discuss an IME issue, call us for free any time or fill out our contact form and we will call you ASAP, usually within minutes.