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What is an IME or Independent Medical Exam in Washington?

So you’ve been informed that you have to adhere to an IME in the state of Washington…

As an injured worker in Washington, you may be wondering, “Do I have to comply with an IME request?” The answer, unfortunately, is yes.

You will need to go the IME doctor in order to retain your benefits and uphold the standing of your injury claim. Before you go to your IME, it is advised that you speak with an injury attorney about your case so you can learn what watch out for and how to conduct yourself during the exam.

An Experienced L&I Attorney’s Opinion on IMEs in Washington:

  • 19/20 IMEs come back anti-worker or anti-injured party
  • The results can be held against you by other parties involved (employer, insurer, or the Department of Labor & Industries)
  • Medical professional have weaponized their credentials – Learn More

What Else Should I Know About Independent Medical Exams in Washington?

You’ll likely have to visit an IME provider, such as:

  • MES Solutions

  • OMAC (Objective Medical Assessment Corp)

  • ExamWorks

  • Direct IME

  • Auto Injury Solutions

Independent Medical Exam Frequently Asked Questions

When can the Department or Self-Insured Employer Request an IME?

Pursuant to Department of Labor & Industries Interim Policy 13.05 (effective January 1, 2021), an IME examination can only be requested of an injured worker in order to determine the issues of claim allowance, claim reopening, new medical issues, appeals, case progress, permanent partial disability and to determine work restrictions.

What Does a “New Medical Issue” Mean in L&I Claims?

RCW 51.08.121 defines a “new medical issue” as “a medical issue not covered by a previous medical examination requested by the department or the self-insurer such as an issue regarding medical causation, medical treatment, work restrictions, or evaluating permanent partial disability.”

Where Will An IME Examination Be Held?

Pursuant to Department of Labor & Industries Interim Policy 13.05 (effective January 1, 2021), the IME examination must be scheduled “at a time and place reasonably convenient to the worker.” Reasonably convenient means “a location where residents within the workers’ community (county) would normally travel for similar care.”

Can The Department of Labor & Industries Request a Specific IME Examiner?

State Fund adjudicators are not allowed to request specific IME examiners unless the exam is being conducted for a reopening application where the IME examiner previously conducted a closing exam, where the IME doctor has otherwise already examined the injured worker, or when the claim involves such complex medical or legal issues as make selection of a specific provider appropriate.

How Much Notice Needs to Be Given Prior to an IME Exam?

A written notice must be sent at least 14 calendar days, but not more than 60 calendar days, prior to an IME examination for all non-incarcerated injured workers.  The notice must include the appointment time, date and place and be sent to all claim parties.  However, shorter notice is permitted where a written waiver is filed by the injured worker’s attorney.

Is the Injured Worker Entitled to Their IME Exam Report?

Yes, pursuant to Department of Labor & Industries Interim Policy 13.05 (effective January 1, 2021), the department or self-insured employer must provide a copy of the IME exam report to the attending physician, the worker and the worker’s attorney.

Is there any Penalty for Missing an IME Exam?

Pursuant to RCW 51.32.110(2) and WAC 296-14-410, if the worker refuses to submit to a medical examination, or obstructs the same, the Department may upon notice to the injured worker “suspend any further action” on the claim, including payment of time loss benefits, as well as charge the injured worker the costs of the missed IME examination.

Can an IME Examination Be Conducted Via Telemedicine?

Yes. Pursuant to Department of Labor & Industries Interim Policy 13.05 (effective January 1, 2021), an IME examination can be conducted via telemedicine.  Usually it will not be, however, as a physical examination is usually required to establish a correct diagnosis and place responsible medical restrictions.  When a panel IME examination is ordered, one or more of the panel physicians may appear via telemedicine.

At these facilities, you will be assessed by an IME doctor. Because IME evaluations are extremely personal and the outcome is important to your livelihood, you want to trust that you will receive an unbiased assessment of your injuries. Unfortunately, that is often not the case.

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After many years helping injured clients and listening to their experiences, we suggest that you speak with one of our experienced personal injury and L&I attorneys about your injury case prior to going to your IME.

If not, you might find yourself in a situation where your IME results are being used against you by an insurer, employer, or the Department of Labor & Industries to fight your completely valid claim. Learn More Here.

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USAA and Auto Injury Solutions IMEs

In the same way that IMEs are used to assist employers and insurance companies with reducing settlements for an injured party, USAA uses Auto Injury Solutions to diminish the claims of victims of accident injuries.

USAA and Auto Injury Solutions unethically pays out of state doctors to review your claim and deny you payment. This denial saves USAA a tremendous amount of money each year. If you have had your benefits cut by USAA and Auto Injury Solutions, we suggest that you call us immediately so we can review your case together.

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At Washington Law Center, we have a “No-Fee Promise” with all of our injury cases. We don’t get paid unless you do!

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We are real, local Washington attorneys dedicated to helping our clients receive fair compensation and get back on their feet.

Spencer Parr

Partner, Labor & Industries / Personal Injury Attorney
Personal Injury Attorney - Ashton Dennis - Tacoma, WA - Washington Law Center

Ashton Dennis

Partner, Personal Injury Attorney
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