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Are Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Medical Exams Really Independent?

There is a huge trust deficit when it comes to Pennsylvania’s injured workers and doctors who perform independent medical examinations (IMEs).

Not many people believe that these exams are independent or in the best interest of the injured workers. A major reason for this is the fact that the work comp insurance carrier/employer gets to handpick whomever they wish to examine the injured worker.

Their goal is to garner an opinion that the injured worker is either fully recovered, or at least to minimize their restrictions. Sometimes, IME doctors even challenge the diagnoses of the treating physician and claim that it isn’t work-related.

Understandably, injured workers feel a lot of apprehension going for IMEs.

However, the good news for injured workers is that the IMEs often lead to litigation which can then mean getting their case settled for a lump sum compensation. Albeit it happens sometimes, yet in cases where things seem to be at a standstill, the independent medical exam can get things moving.

IMEs: A Bitter Pill To Swallow

The bad news is the medical opinions in IME reports can cause great stress and worry among injured workers. To hear that they are suddenly recovered, and that they are “malingering” is a tough pill to swallow. The natural reaction is anger. But I always remind our clients that they know the truth and we know the truth and that we’ll have a good chance at demonstrating to the Judge that the IME doctor’s opinions are not credible.

Thank God for Due Process — the ability for each side to present their evidence. In most cases, our clients tell us the exam was shallow: 10 minutes, tops. Plus, usually, the physician has an attitude that injured employees do not find very helpful.

Granted, it doesn’t mean that their treating physician is spending an hour with them. But when you have one bite at the proverbial apple, you would think the physician would ask a lot more questions and perform longer exams.

The upside of this is the deposition. We get to expose the fact that the doctor had one shot and didn’t ask this or didn’t ask that, etc.

Are IMEs Mandatory?

Do injured workers have to attend the Independent Medical Examinations? Generally speaking, yes. The rule of thumb is that the exam can take place every 6 months or so. Sometimes there are exceptions to this. The consequence for missing the exam is likely going to be a Petition to Compel, filed by the insurance company’s attorney. This petition seeks a Court Order from a Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Judge to compel the injured worker to attend the next examination. If they don’t, that wage loss benefits, if applicable, will be suspended.

Remember, if you drive yourself to the exam, you can get reimbursed for miles and tolls/parking. If you want the insurance company to arrange transportation for you, let us know (if we represent you) ahead of time or whomever your attorney is.

How Do IME Doctors Undermine Work Injuries?

What are some of the common ways the Independent Medical Doctors undermine injured workers?

One common method is to spy on them as they walk into the building, then later claiming they walked differently in the office.

Another dynamic we often see is blaming the physical condition on “age-related” findings or “arthritis”. Indeed, arthritis may be the single biggest reason there is so much litigation in America in Work Comp, Personal Injury, or Medical Malpractice cases. A doctor can always hang their hat on this, that the MRI findings didn’t occur from the event, but from aging.

They’ll say this sometimes even when an injured worker is in their 20s.

In other cases, we read that the injured workers’ examination didn’t make sense, because they couldn’t do one maneuver, but when “distracted”, they could do it without any issues. And the most popular claim? “There are no objective findings to support the subjective complaints”. When you dig deep in a deposition with some of the IME doctors, they will tend to stumble over what objective findings could have been present. That’s a story for another day.

How to Make IME Work for You

We need balance in the system. The insurance companies are paying the benefits ultimately, so we aren’t arguing for no checks and balances. But the idea that these exams are objective or independent is a farce in the majority of cases.

To maximize compensation benefits for injured workers, educating our clients is essential so they know how the process works, and to prepare them mentally for the opinions that may soon be rendered about them. That being said, attending with an open mind, with 100% honesty, and without a chip on the shoulder, is the way to go. Don’t change yourself or how you behave just because you suspect the doctor may be biased and trying to take food off your table. Authenticity rules the day.

 

Awards & Recognitions

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Cardamone Law Has Negotiated Some of the Largest Workers’ Comp Settlements in Pennsylvania

$6 Million
We Assisted Another Firm in Reaching Settlement
$2.2 Million
Spinal Injury
$897,000
Lower Back Injury
$650,000
Lower Back Injury
$550,000
Neck Injury
$425,000
Leg Injury
$375,000
Knee Injury
$325,000
Ankle Injury
$6 Million
We Assisted Another Firm in Reaching Settlement
$2.2 Million
Spinal Injury
$897,000
Lower Back Injury
$650,000
Lower Back Injury
$550,000
Neck Injury
$425,000
Leg Injury
$375,000
Knee Injury
$325,000
Ankle Injury

Client Testimonials

"Thank you from the bottom of my heart Mike and Shirley!!"

I called Shirley when I was scared and didn’t know what where my next dime was coming from after I was out with my work injury. Shirley was very kind and helpful guiding me every single step of the way. Mike was not your typical lawyer was not pushy but very responsive to all my gazillion questions. He helped me get my settlement quickly and settlement check in a very timely manner. Would recommend them to anyone! Mike helped calm all my fears and anxieties as I was trying to navigate one of the hardest and most stressful times in my life. Thank you from the bottom of my heart Mike and Shirley!!

- Jen Thompson
Google Reviews
"Tienes un equipo impresionante a pesar de ser una compañía pequeña, los resultados fueron excelentes!"

Yo le daría 10 estrellas en vez de 5 , Michael Cardamone es una persona genuina y un gran abogado, al principio de mi caso, yo estaba en la oscuridad y no sabia que pasos tendría que seguir porque Workers comp ,solo me cubría en esos momentos los beneficios medicos .Después, me eliminaron el puesto , no sabia como manejar mi situación (estaba con una cirugía y también sin trabajo,) grasias a Mike, el me dirigió por el camino correcto, me dieron una muy buena cantidad por mi caso. El fue muy comprensivo porque le hice muchas preguntas por email y siempre me las contesto a tiempo, brindando seguridad ,sabia que estaba en las manos correctas! Shirley y Francisco también fueron de gran ayuda con los recordatorios y servicios de traducción en Español. tienes un equipo impresionante a pesar de ser una compañía pequeña, los resultados fueron excelentes! se los recomiendo a todos. Muchas grasias Cardamone law!

- Marisol Rodriguez
Google Reviews
"Best Law Firm around!"

"Cardomone law is absolutely fantastic! They are very responsive and helpful and they will fight to get you what you deserve. Shirley is also very helpful whenever you have any questions! Best Law Firm around!"

- C. Edwards
Google Reviews
"Michael and Shirley are very dedicated...and getting the maximum amount favorable to my case"

"Cardamone Law Firm were very helpful to me since day one. Michael and Shirley are very dedicated to my case giving me updates, answering my questions, being honest with my case, and getting the maximum amount favorable to my case. Thank you so much for your service and dedication and helping me to achieve not only your case but to guide and refer me in other needs too! You guys are the best law firm friendly and dedicated. I will recommend to anyone."

- A. Ortiz
Google Reviews
"Michael won my workers comp case after my employer insurance denied my claim."

"Exceptional firm. Highly recommend this law firm. Michael won my Workers Comp case after my employer insurance denied my claim. Him and his staff were always at my reach for legal and emotional support. Am so happy I hire them. Thanks Michael and Ms. Shirley."

- Carlos P.
Google Reviews
"[They] did an excellent job in getting me financially compensated in a fairly short amount of time."

"I recently had a work related injury and was receiving Workers' Compensation (medical benefits only). Soon after I was fired, so I contacted Paul Silver at Cardamone Law Firm who did an excellent job in getting me financially compensated in a fairly short amount of time. Paul and his assistant Shirley always responded to any questions I had about the case in a very short amount of time. Thank you for helping me with this difficult case."

- Robin C.
Google Reviews
"Highly recommend."

"Cardamone Law was great with helping my husband with his Workers Comp issues. Mike and Shirley were the best with letting us know what was going on every step of the way. Highly recommend."

- Danielle P.
Google Reviews
"Mike Cardamone is amazing"

"Mike Cardamone is amazing. He is "hands down" one of the best lawyers I've ever had the privilege of knowing. He is very kind, understanding, knowledgeable in his field, always very thorough and helpful. He was extremely professional and someone who truly cares about his clients. I felt completely at ease with him. He was a pleasure to work with, explained everything in detail, as well as answered all my questions with knowledge and care. If you want someone you can trust, who communicates every step of the way, will fight for you and make sure you win your case, he is it! I will refer all my family and friends to him. Thank you so much Mike, for everything. I appreciate all your hard work and dedication in helping me."

- Allie M.
Google Reviews
Without a doubt YOU are the best!!!

"Without a doubt YOU are the best!!! Every person who is in the horrible position of being injured at work should have someone as kind, compassionate and knowledgeable as you on their side. You never once made me feel like I was one of a hundred other clients. I always knew you had my back! You answered calls and emails at all hours. You fought every fight for me so I only had to worry about getting well. Behind your nice, calm face there’s a pit bull ready to take on any employer or judge. I can never thank you enough."

- L. Edall
Google Reviews
"Best Workers' Comp Lawyer!"

"Michael is simply the best! He was there for me from day 1 till the end, and we won the case!! He is always available to help. I had a gazillion questions and he would answer them one by one. He's a great lawyer and I feel lucky to have found him online from reading other outstanding reviews about him. Believe me, they're true!"

- Faith B.
Google Reviews
"Great Attorney"

"Great attorney, handled case quickly and efficiently. I would recommend him and would use him again. He was always available to answer any questions we had. Thank you, Mr. Cardamone."

- H. Anderson
Google Reviews