If you are receiving workers’ compensation benefits, your employer/insurer (the defense) can request that you submit to a workers’ compensation medical exam in Atlanta, sometimes referred to as an independent medical examination (IME), with a doctor not involved in your medical treatment. O.C.G.A. 39-9-202 provides the following: “After injury and as long as he claims compensation, the employee, if so requested by the employer, shall submit himself to examination, at reasonable times and places, by a duly qualified physician or surgeon designated and paid by the employer or the board.”
Refusing an Exam Can Thwart Your Workers’ Compensation Benefits
If the doctor who performs the employee’s exam is biased and favors the interests of the employer, the doctor may try to downplay the severity of the employee’s condition and prematurely release him or her back to work. If your employer is requesting you undergo a medical exam, it’s likely that it is trying to prove you’re capable of work so it can cease your wage replacement benefits. It’s also likely that your employer may be trying to prove that you don’t need surgery or some other type of treatment ordered by your authorized treating physician.
Still, it’s ill-advised to refuse the exam outright. Speak to a lawyer straightaway to discuss your case. If you refuse to be seen for the medical exam, you risk losing your benefits. The laws authorize “the suspension of benefits if the claimant refuses to submit to an employer-requested exam.”
Arguing against the Medical Exam
Claimants and their attorneys have, in the past, tried to justify refusing to submit to an exam on the premise that the doctor was biased and, therefore, not “independent.” This argument doesn’t always hold up because nowhere in the law books does it state that the employer-requested medical exam provider be “independent” – only that the provider be duly qualified.
But there are certain arguments against submitting to an IME that may be viable. Employers must follow certain protocols when it comes to requesting medical evaluations. If the company doesn’t follow the rules, the employee may have just cause not go to the exam. Board Rule 202(b) holds employers to the following responsibilities:
- The employer/insurer has to give the employee advance notice of the time, date, and place of the IME;
- The employer must receive the notice at least 10 days prior to the scheduled appointment; and
- The employer must make advance payment of the travel expenses the worker will incur for going to the exam.
Getting Legal Help for your Workers’ Compensation Case
If you believe your benefits are in jeopardy, you have the right to seek legal counsel for advice and representation. Our workers’ compensation attorneys at Bader Law Firm, LLC, are here to help. Contact us for a free consultation. Let us discuss your case and determine how we may be of assistance. Call 404-888-8888.