The outcome of your Independent Medical Exam will greatly impact the success of your workers’ compensation claim.
You have applied for workers’ compensation because you were injured on the job.
You may have been injured by heavy equipment, or machinery, a crate may have fallen on you in a big box store, or you may have sprained your back moving inventory – all of these events might precede filing a workers’ compensation claim.
Workers’ compensation insurance is a benefit paid by your employer to give you time off to heal from your injury on-the-job. Most employers must pay into the insurance program, so that benefits will be available for injured workers. The benefits are underwritten by insurance companies or by state funds.
How do I qualify for Worker’s Compensation?
First, your employer must carry workers’ compensation insurance.
In Alabama, if the company employs four or more workers, it is required to have workers’ compensation insurance coverage. Always check when taking a job.
You need to have been injured on the job to qualify, but there is an exception. If you are an independent contractor, such as a consultant, or working freelance, you may not be entitled to workers’ comp benefits.
And your injury may not have been in the workplace.
For example, if you were running an errand for your boss, that would be considered job-related. Just walking to lunch may not be. The question will also be asked – were you acting recklessly in the workplace in a way that could cause injury? That would be a red flag concerning your coverage.
You Must Report Your On-the-Job Injury
There is a deadline to report the injury. In Alabama, you should report to your employer no longer than five days after the event. Failure to do so may mean you forfeit any compensation.
The form is a WC form 2 9/2006. Alabama law specifies compensatory, medical, or death benefits.
The benefits will depend on whether it is a temporary or partial injury.
A general guideline is that you can expect to earn two-thirds of your weekly earnings. The maximum weekly wage cannot exceed that as outlined by the state.
For death claims, the employee’s average weekly salary prior to the accident is divided in half, if the decedent has one dependent. It increases to 66 and two-thirds percent for two or more dependents. The death benefit can be received for up to 500 weeks.
is an IME?
An Independent Medical Exam is performed by a non-treating doctor who then issues a written report of findings. He or she will determine if you are ready to return to work. Either you or your boss may request the IME, but it is likely the employer wants to lower his costs, so be aware of any report that minimizes the extent of your injuries.
Preparing for an IME Exam
The primary thing you can to do prepare for an IME exam is to follow your doctor’s course of treatment. That may include physical therapy, a need to rest, and /or medication. A failure to do so may lead to a forfeiture of your benefits.
You do have the right to have your own physician present for the examination. Beforehand, all documentation should be sent to the doctor and you should review it to make sure it is complete.
Be careful what you say to the IME doctor. There is no expectation of doctor-patient confidentiality and anything you say can be used against you to deny your claim.
The IME physician will submit a written report on the extent of the injury and/or disability. If there is a dispute about the findings, the court may appoint a neutral physician to make a third exam.
As the injured worker, it is imperative that you challenge any misstatements in the IME report. An experienced workers’ comp attorney can help you file an appeal if your claim is denied for whatever reason.
At Alsobrook Law Group, we will work to make sure your workers’ compensation claim survives any challenges. Call our office today at 334-737-3718 to schedule a free and confidential consultation or send us a message through our web contact form.