Florida’s workers’ compensation claims statistics revealed there were 58,649 workers’ comp claims in 2020. When you file a workers’ comp case in Florida, your employer’s insurer will request an independent medical evaluation (IME) by one of their doctors.
The information you give can be the success or failure of your claim. That’s why you have to be careful and know what not to say during the workers’ comp doctor evaluation.
What does a workers’ comp doctor do?
Although they are not specialists, a workers’ comp doctor plays a huge role in the workers’ comp process. He/she is responsible for making sure your injuries are work-related, and whether they are as serious as you claim. Once the IME is complete, the doctor will write a report that determines whether your work injuries qualify for workers’ comp benefits.
Unfortunately, there are many problems with IMEs, including unskilled doctors who barely examine the injured workers before giving their final report.
Now, you may be wondering, can I see my own doctor in a Florida workers’ compensation claim?
Unfortunately, the answer is no.
Florida is a state that favors employers and its insurers. By law, you must see the workers’ comp doctor your employer’s insurance company provides for you. This is to prevent workers’ comp fraud. If you refuse the IME, your workers’ comp benefits could be cut-off for failure to comply.
What not to say to your workers’ comp doctor during the IME
Below are three items you should avoid saying to the workers’ comp doctor:
1. Don’t exaggerate or lie about your injuries.
Making your symptoms and injuries sound more serious than they are can backfire. The insurance company will look for any reason to deny your claim, so if they catch you in a lie, it can put your workers’ comp benefits at risk.Tell the truth about your symptoms, prior injuries and conditions.
2.Don’t leave out details.
The workers’ comp doctor will ask you various questions during the IME. Be upfront and provide complete details of your condition. Don’t leave out information about any pre-existing medical conditions, past injuries, and how the accident happened.
You may want to leave out key details out of fear because you don’t want to look bad. The doctor or the insurance company will be able to tell that you’re not being honest while telling your story. This could lead to questioning what really happened and you as a patient.
3.Don’t be negative.
Feeling angry or upset about the IME is normal. Always be polite and control your emotions while speaking to the doctor. During the exam, you may think the doctor is trying to discredit your story. Sly comments won’t help. The IME doctor will be less likely to help you if you are rude.
Also, don’t make negative statements about your employer. This puts you in a negative light and ruins your credibility. Keep in mind, those same negative statements may show up in the workers’ comp doctor’s report. Of course, your employer will read the report and you’ll be left with facing another problem at work.
Why workers’ comp doctors lie and how to handle it
Workers’ comp doctors get paid by the insurance company. IME doctors can make anywhere from $600 to $1500 and more for each exam they perform on injured workers. To keep making a profit off of these exams, the workers’ comp doctor wants to help reduce the insurance company’s costs of paying for workers’ comp benefits.
With this goal, it’s possible the doctor’s IME report will downplay your work injuries or dismiss them completely. If this happens to you, take these steps to fight the report:
- Get a copy of the report. Don’t rely on what the insurance company says about your IME report over the phone. You and your workers’ comp attorney should review a copy of the report for inconsistencies and mistakes.
- Use witnesses. If a friend or family member attended the exam with you, they can serve as witnesses. They can discuss the information you gave to the doctor and describe what your injury symptoms were.
- Ask your own doctor to write a response letter. Show your doctor the IME report and ask if they would be willing to write a letter to counter it. Keep in mind that your doctor will charge you a fee to write this response letter.
- Hire an attorney. You want a trusted workers’ comp attorney from Sternberg | Forsythe, P.A. to help you fight a denied claim resulting from an inaccurate IME report. We have significant, successful experience with Florida workers’ comp claims and can help you get the benefits you deserve.
Don’t let a lie result in your denial: Contact a trusted Florida workers’ comp attorney
If you received an injury or illness while performing your job duties, seek representation from an experienced Florida workers’ compensation attorney as soon as possible. At Sternberg | Forsythe, P.A., we’ll guide you through the workers’ comp process from filing a claim to obtaining the full recovery you are owed. Contact our office online or give us a call for a free consultation.