When you have been hurt on the job, or contracted a disease because of conditions at work, you have a right to seek benefits under your state’s workers’ compensation laws. Once you have notified your employer of your injury or illness, you will typically be required to submit to an “independent medical examination” by a doctor chosen by your employer or the workers’ compensation insurance company. As a practical matter, the exam is not really independent or unbiased—the doctor will look for reasons to deny or diminish your claim.
Your Rights during the Examination
As a general rule, you will receive a letter notifying you of the scheduled appointment with the company-selected doctor. Often, the letter will include information about whether or not the doctor plans to audiotape or videotape the proceeding. Regardless of the doctor’s intentions, and even if the letter specifically states that audio or videotaping will be allowed, you always have the right to have the examination recorded. If you appear at the scheduled time, and the doctor prohibits you from videotaping the exam, you have the right to politely decline to be examined (you should, however, videotape your request to videotape, as well as the doctor’s refusal).
Be assertive during the examination—make certain the doctor looks at everything that might be ailing you and that might be work-related. In addition, ask the doctor to document everything in writing.
You also have the right to be accompanied by a chaperone or witness when you participate in the IME. The doctor cannot prevent that person from being in the room during the examination, particularly by claiming the doctor-patient privilege. You have the right to waive that privilege with respect to the person who comes with you.
Contact Our Office
At Barnard, Mezzanotte, Pinnie & Seelaus, we offer experienced and knowledgeable legal counsel to individuals in Pennsylvania. To set up an appointment for a free initial consultation, call us at 610-565-4055 or contact us online.