Procedures for Independent Medical Examinations in Louisiana Workers Compensation

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How to Order an Independent Medical Examination in Louisiana Workers Compensation

Louisiana law allows for either party - the workers compensation insurance company or the employee - to request an Independent Medical Examination (IME) from the Office of Workers' Compensation.

There are two ways in which the Independent Medical Examination can be ordered:

    1. An Independent Medical Examination where the IME physician is selected by the Office of Workers Compensation Medical Services Division; and
    2. An Independent Medical Examination where the IME physician is selected by the workers compensation Judge.

If a claim is already in workers compensation court, then the parties can request an Independent Medical Examination through the Office of Workers' Compensation Medical Services Division, or through the presiding workers compensation Judge.

If a claim is not already in workers compensation court, then the parties are limited to requesting an Independent Medical Examination through the Office of Workers' Compensation Medical Services Division. 

Also, any party requesting an Independent Medical Examination must make its request at or prior to the court's pre-trial conference; requests for Independent Medical Examinations made after that time will be denied except for good cause or if it is found to be in the best interest of justice to order such examination.

The employee and the workers compensation insurance company should provide the doctor who will perform the Independent Medical Examination with copies of all of the employee's medical records.

But the employee cannot contact the doctor who will perform the Independent Medical Examination, except to schedule the appointment and go to the exam.

Independent Medical Examiners Selected by the Office of Workers Compensation Medical Services Division

The more common method of obtaining an Independent Medical Examination is by having the Independent Medical Examiner selected by the Office of Workers Compensation Medical Services Division.

Under this method, the Office of Workers' Compensation Medical Services Division can appoint an independent medical practitioner to examine the employee to address a “dispute” as to his “condition” or “capacity to work.”

And the Independent Medical Examiner will report his or her conclusions from the examination to the Office of Workers' Compensation Medical Services Division and to the parties, and the report shall be submitted as evidence on the facts to be used for any related disputes.

But if both the employee's treating physician and the Second Medical Opinion (SMO) doctor (selected by the workers compensation insurance company) agree as to the employee's medical condition or work status, then the workers compensation insurance company cannot request that an Independent Medical Examination be performed.

Independent Medical Examiners Selected by the Workers Compensation Judge

Under this method of obtaining an Independent Medical Examination, the workers compensation Judge may order the employee to be examined by a physician selected by the workers' compensation court.

This method is generally accomplished by one party filing a Motion to Order an Independent Medical Examination within the district court where the claim is already pending.

However, it is entirely at the workers compensation Judge's discretion as to whether to order the Independent Medical Examination, based upon whether the requesting party has shown good grounds for a court-appointed Independent Medical Examination.

So just because the workers compensation insurance company requests an Independent Medical Examination from the workers compensation Judge, does not mean that the Judge will in fact order the workers compensation Judge will order the Independent Medical Examination.

Procedures Following an Independent Medical Examination in Louisiana Workers Compensation

Following the Independent Medical Examination, the Independent Medical Examiner will draft a report on the examination, and will send a certified report directly to the Louisiana Office of Workers Compensation Medical Services Division or to the Louisiana Workers Compensation Judge who requested the IME.

And the opinion of the Independent Medical Examination report will be strongly considered by the workers compensation Judge, and usually the workers compensation Judge will make a decision that is in agreement with the Independent Medical Examination report.

But just because an Independent Medical Examination report goes in favor of an employee, does not mean that the Judge will decide in favor of that employee.

Again, the workers compensation Judge will evaluate all of the evidence to the appropriate legal standards, and make an impartial decision.

Also, either party can appeal the decision of the workers compensation Judge to the appellate circuit court.  

Last, the employee cannot contact the physician who is performing the Independent Medical Examination, except to schedule the appointment and go to the exam.

If there even appears to be any improper contact with the Independent Medical Examiner, the workers compensation Judge will most likely throw out the Independent Medical Examination report, and not consider it as evidence.

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