An IME is an Independent Medical Evaluation, which can occur during treatment or more routinely at the conclusion of all treatment related to the work accident. Evaluations during treatment may be requested by the carrier for a number of reasons: a second surgical opinion, for validity of the approach of the current medical provider or to terminate treatment that may have plateaued. If curative medical treatment is terminated following such an evaluation, a petitioner may avail herself of motion practice using the authorized treating doctor’s recommendations. A treating doctor’s opinion is to be given greater weight under circumstances such as these. See Noto v. Staples, No. A-0237-10T1, App. Div. (August 2, 2011) and Bialko v. H. Baker, 118 A.2nd 412 (App. Div. 1955).
IMEs at the conclusion of medical treatment are undertaken by both Petitioners and Respondents and play an essential role in the ultimate resolution of claims. Both sides retain experts to review of records, perform a physical examination of the petitioner and prepare a report giving estimates of permanent disability. New Jersey does not utilize the AMA guidelines to assess permanent disability; therefore, it is imperative that the experts retained are able to quantify disability in accordance with our statute, N.J.S.A. 34:15-12. Disability can be total or partial in character and must be permanent in nature. This means that while the disability does not necessarily keep the individual from working, it does have a permanent impact on their life. Upon receipt of exams settlement negotiations ensue. Failing settlement the experts will be called to testify in accordance with findings and opinions as stated in their reports.