Most Illinois work comp cases involve an injury to one body part.  If you are off work for that work injury, an IME doctor would look at whatever body part is injured when they examine you on behalf of the insurance company.

In some claims though you could injure two body parts.  It’s really common to have a back injury along with a problem with your leg or arm.  This happens a lot in falls, car crashes or when you overcompensate for one problem and cause another.  It’s also very common to have back and neck injuries.

In a lot of cases where there are two injuries the reality is that only one of them keeps you from working.  For example, you might have a herniated disc in your back and a strain in your shoulder.  The back is the big problem while the shoulder needs minimal care.

In other cases though you could have two really big injuries. A recent caller to my office had a torn rotator cuff and a herniated disc in his back. He’d been off work for a while when the insurance company sent him for an IME.  The doctor they sent him to is a back specialist and only examined his back.  The report he wrote also only discussed his back and said that he could return to work. As a result his TTD benefits were cut off.

This is an insurance company scam.  My guess is that they asked the doctor to comment about the shoulder and he verbally told them that the rotator cuff was torn and the worker couldn’t do his job which involved a lot of overhead lifting.  It’s a common insurance company tactic to discuss what the doctor will say both before and after the exam takes place.  The other option is that had another doctor do a record review and were told what is obvious, that this worker can’t work right now.

So even though he’s clearly off work for the shoulder problem, they rely on the back IME report that says he can work and cut off his benefits.  It’s a clearly shady action although fortunately a problem we can likely solve right away.  But it creates problems and stress for this worker that shouldn’t happen.

What I don’t suggest you do is talk too much at the IME. If the doctor asks what hurts, tell him/her everything that bothers you.  But don’t confront the doctor when they only exam one body part and not the other.  It’s not your job to do their job for them or to point out their errors.  Doing so could actually hurt your case in the end. Some IME doctors are so arrogant and put off by being talked to that they’ll write things in their report to hurt you out of spite.

This is part of what can be maddening about Illinois work comp.  To you this is your health and your life.  At times to the insurance company it’s just a game.  They are playing a game with your life and livelihood.