I’m happy to answer any Illinois workers’ compensation for free. There truly is no such thing as a dumb question. I love talking to anyone, but especially enjoy it when people ask me things I rarely hear or in this case, something I’ve never been asked before. Here’s what the question was:

My worker’s compensation lawyer scheduled me an IME is the good or bad?

Typically an IME or independent medical examination is a one-time medical exam that is requested by the employer or their insurance company.  It’s meant to assess what your injury is, if it’s work-related, what treatment you need, and do you need to be off of work. Often those exams last less than three minutes and many of the doctors involved are hired guns who make six or seven figures a year from these exams.

Injured workers can have their own IME to get an opinion that their injury is work-related or that they need certain treatment, etc., but it rarely happens for a few reasons:

1. You have to pay for it out of your own pocket. Your lawyer will front the expenses, but it comes out of your settlement in the end.

2. Your treating doctor who sees you regularly is a much more credible person to offer an opinion on your care.

3. Any IME that your lawyer chooses for you is likely going to be seen as a hired gun without credibility.

4. If the treating doctor says something not in your favor, the IME report your lawyer gets is not likely going to be worth that much.

The only time I can think of that this really would make sense is if your doctor is out of the state or country making their testimony harder to get (although I’ve traveled for depositions many times) or if they are the type of doctor who refuses to offer any medical opinion about workers comp because they don’t want to be involved in legal matters. In other words, this is really rare.  Maybe you’d do this if the treating doctor tells you verbally that they won’t give you a favorable report, but it would sure look suspicious.

My concern, if your lawyer wanted to do this, would be that he’s trying to do his buddy (who refers him clients) a favor or something like that. When I was a younger lawyer and a defense attorney, I saw what I would describe as sleazy attorneys using the same doctor on every case to offer up reports at the end of the case. Often, it wasn’t needed as they had an opinion from the treating doctor already. So in essence, in my opinion, they stole a few hundred dollars from their clients and gave them to a doctor who referred them a lot of cases. There was one doctor who was notorious for these reports and he ended up getting arrested for health care fraud. Other doctors were retired from seeing patients and only generated these reports. None of this is in the best interests of the injured worker which should be all that matters.

Odds are that this won’t happen in your case, but if it does you should simply ask your lawyer why they aren’t getting a medical report from your treating doctor instead.  Maybe there’s a good reason for it. Maybe, but I tend to doubt it.