My last article discussed the governance of an IME and how to prepare for one. This article shares my advice concerning what happens during an IME.
When it comes to physical versus mental or cognitive examinations, there are a lot of unresolved questions across the country. The answers vary, both under federal and state law. For example, do you have the right to:
•Have a lawyer present during the IME?
•Have a third party witness present, such as a spouse, sibling, nurse, or doctor, or lawyer?
•Record the IME, either by video or audiotape?
When it comes to mental examinations or cognitive evaluations, generally known as psychological, neuropsychological, or psychiatric evaluations, the majority of states across the country agree: no third party is entitled to be present and recording is not permitted. Regarding physical examinations, however, there are additional, important tips during the IME that claimants should be aware of when pursuing their long-term disability claim.
While with the doctor in the IME, there are certain things we recommend our clients DO NOT do:
•Don’t give a whole history of your health condition.
•Don’t explain the cause of your disability.
•Don’t answer questions by the examiner unrelated to your pain, your restrictions, or your limitations.
In terms of explaining your occupational duties and answering questions regarding pain, restrictions, and limitations during the examination, we believe these are appropriate questions to be asked and answered.
If you are unable to have your lawyer or a witness present during the examination, or if anything comes up during the IME that gives you cause for concern, we recommend you step out of the room and call your lawyer. If a doctor is asking you to sign anything when you get to the examination, depending on what it is, it could be out of bounds.
For example, if the doctor wants you to sign an indemnity from any liability, or if they want you to sign additional releases that are beyond the scope of the examination itself, generally, those things are not to be done. The things the doctor is entitled to ask you to sign should be taken care of with your attorney before the actual examination or evaluation.
Going into an examination by an examiner who has been hired by an insurance company, without protecting any of your rights, is a big mistake. I strongly recommend you protect those rights. If you have any questions regarding this, feel free to contact my office.
Evan S. Schwartz
Founder of Schwartz, Conroy & Hack