Also Read: What Is Workers Compensation?
Workers Comp Doctor Evaluation
An important step in receiving your workers comp is attending your independent medical exam (IME). This exam can make or break a workers comp case for many injured workers. During an IME, your insurance company’s doctor evaluates your injuries, and determines how long it’ll take for you to likely recover.
It’s hard to know exactly what to expect from a workers comp doctor when you go in for an IME. Dealing with a workers comp doctor is intimidating for injured workers and makes an IME even harder. But knowing what not to say to a workers comp doctor can legally protect you.
Also Read: What To Expect From A Workers Comp Doctor
How To Prepare For Your Independent Medical Exam
You may not know exactly what to expect from your workers comp evaluation, but you can easily figure out what not to say. The best way to prepare for your your IME is to:
- Dress well and arrive early
- Be polite and friendly
- Write down everything that happens afterwards
- Report everything to your workers comp lawyer
If you’re still nervous about your exam, call a workers comp lawyer and they can also help you go over some common questions.
Common Questions Workers Comp Doctors Ask
It’s impossible to say what exactly your doctor is going to do. Different states require workers comp doctors to assess different things. The best way to know some common questions you’ll be asked is to consult with your workers comp lawyer.
In general, you should prepare yourself to talk about the following topics with your doctor:
- Pre-existing conditions an past injuries
- When symptoms and pain started
- Your injury’s severity and your limitations
- What happened during the accident
- Any symptoms from before, during, and after the accident
- Any diagnosis given to you by your GP
- How the injury affects your day-to-day life
- If you’ll require or have had various treatments, therapies, and medications
Try to write concise answers for these general questions. If you’re unsure about whether or not one of your answers can get you in trouble, call a workers comp lawyer for a consultation.
Also Read: 8 Things To Do After You’re Injured At Work
7 Things Not To Say To A Workers Comp Doctor
When you’re dealing with a workers comp doctor, treat the visit like a normal doctor’s visit. Workers comp lawyers always recommend getting a second opinion when going through workers comp. If you’re nervous about the IME with your insurance’s doctor, seek your second opinion first so you know what to expect, and can see how an exam normally goes.
It can be hard to deal with your workers comp evaluation- a lot is at stake and you don’t know what can get you in trouble. Here are 7 things not to say or do in your IME that can ensure you get the settlement you’re entitled to.
Don’t be rude or difficult
Even if you find the doctor is difficult to deal with, do not be rude. Take account of their treatment and report it to your lawyer. This may help your case if their analysis is unfavorable.
However, if you’re rude or difficult during the exam, this can come off as suspicious. There’s no reason for you to be disrespectful. Your workers comp lawyer will legally protect you if your doctor is unreasonable.
Don’t admit fault, but be honest about your accident
Your doctor will ask you about your accident. Be honest with your doctor about how you were injured, but do not admit fault. If it seems like they’re trying to coerce you into admitting fault, redirect the conversation. If your doctor continues to lead the conversation this way, politely remind them that they only need to assess your injuries in relation to the accident.
Your doctor does need to know about the accident. Your story must be consistent with what you’ve told the insurance company.
Don’t lie about other injuries and other treatments you’ve had
If you’ve had an injury before this one, let your doctor know. Lying about your pre-existing conditions will not help your case. Your doctor has access to your medical history, so they will know if you’re lying.
You may have attempted to seek other treatments when you first noticed your injury. Be honest with your doctor about what you’ve done to alleviate your pain. Mentioning your other treatments, even if they only temporarily alleviated your pain, only validates your injury more. But remember that your doctor can flag you if they feel you’re abusing pain medication.
Don’t exaggerate your injuries or symptoms
This also comes off as suspicious. Exaggerating your symptoms to get a higher settlement won’t work. If your doctor belittles your injuries, you can always get a second opinion.
It’s your workers comp lawyer’s job to get you everything you’re entitled to. Your lawyer understands the impact your injury has had on your life, and will fight to make sure you get everything you deserve.
Don’t lie if something doesn’t hurt
One of the worst things you can say during an IME is a lie. Your doctor is familiar with injuries similar to yours, so they know what to expect during your exam. Saying something doesn’t hurt won’t affect your settlement.
Being honest when something doesn’t hurt also adds to your credibility. When discussing your pain, you can mention new developments, such as:
- New and different symptoms
- Increased pain or limitations
- If the pain becomes constant or intermittent
You should still be honest about new developments. It helps your case if you keep a log of when your injury starts to change, whether that means the pain has gotten better or worse.
Don’t talk about your employer
You might have a lot of resentment towards your employer’s negligence. This is understandable, but sharing these thoughts with your doctor seriously affects your credibility.
What you say will get back to your employer and insurance company. Be cautious about any statement you make that isn’t about your injury. Stay calm and stay focused on your injuries, the pain, and your doctor.
Most importantly, don’t mention your lawsuit or threaten anyone with legal action. The worst thing you can say to your doctor, insurance company, or employer during your assessment is “I’m going to sue.” Let your lawyer be the one to voice your concerns if they’re violating your rights.
Also Read: 7 Red Flags You Should Sue Your Bad Employer
Don’t interrupt the doctor, but give brief and detailed answers
Your workers comp doctor is still a doctor with hundreds of other patients. They’re likely incredibly busy, and want to give equal care to all their patients. To give the best answers, write down exactly what you need to mention, and narrow each symptom down to one or two sentences.
Your doctor will, in turn, also ask you relevant questions. Do not interrupt them, and be as polite as possible.
What You Should Say To Your Workers Comp Doctor
Your goal is to hopefully make a full recovery and be healthy again. Let your doctor know that all you want is live a full-functioning and pain-free life. This helps your credibility and also shows that you do have a long-term goal or “end point” for your injuries.
At the end of your exam, you can ask your workers comp doctor what their opinion is. They may not give it to you, but it will be available on record shortly thereafter. If the doctor does share their opinion, watch how you react. You cannot react negatively or positively to their assessment.
Prepare yourself for every negative and positive answer. If you don’t think you’ll be able to emotionally handle certain answers, you should avoid asking for the doctor’s opinion at the end of the session.