Workers’ compensation is a state-run system, so every state follows its own rules. In New York, unlike many other states, injured workers do have a right to pick their own physicians for treatment (with some limitations).
As you can imagine, that doesn’t always sit well with employers and their insurers. Sometimes they feel like a doctor is blinded by their relationship with a patient or guided by their sympathies. As a result, the insurer may ask for an independent medical examination (IME).
You have to go if you want to keep your benefits
IMEs are viewed with suspicion by injured workers and their advocates for good reason. The doctors who perform IME exams on behalf of the insurance companies often derive a significant part of their income that way. If they are seen as too “worker-friendly,” those referrals could dry up — which makes the “independent” nature of the exam rather questionable.
Yet, you have no choice but to comply with the request for an IME if you don’t want to lose your medical benefits and replacement income.
You can take steps to protect your interests
You may have to submit to an IME, but you aren’t powerless in this situation. The law allows you to take a witness with you to the exam. In addition, you also have the right to take audio or video recordings of the exam. This helps keep the process fair to the injured.
In addition, you also have the right to respond to the IME report before any decisions are made on your case.
Trying to navigate the workers’ compensation system on your own can be rough. An attorney here in New York can guide you.