IME, SMO, OWCA: Three Handy Acronyms In The Independent Medical Examination Stage Of Louisiana Workers’ Compensation Claims
Unfortunately, workplace accidents occur every day throughout Louisiana, rendering hard-working Louisiana workers unable to earn a livelihood. Fortunately, like other states, most Louisiana workers are protected when a workplace accident occurs under state workers’ compensation laws. Under Louisiana workers’ compensation laws, most workers who have been injured on the job and who are unable to work are entitled to benefits such as compensation, lost wages, medical treatment and rehabilitation costs. As part of the determination as to whether workers’ compensation benefits are due to an injured employee, the employee may be required to undergo medical examinations regarding the workplace injury. Here are three helpful acronyms used at the medical examination stage of Louisiana workers’ compensation cases to help injured workers understand the process better:
The acronym “IME” refers to the term “Independent Medical Examination”. An IME in a Louisiana workers’ compensation case is a medical examination that is done by a third-party medical professional, and not the injured workers’ regular treating physician. An IME is typically ordered when the medical opinions of the employee’s doctor and the workers’ compensation insurance doctor about an injured worker’s ability to work conflict. In that sense, an IME can be used as a tiebreaker between the conflicting medical opinions. Importantly, an IME doctor is not on the employee’s side and, therefore, IME appointments should be handled carefully by the employee.
The acronym “OWCA” refers to the part of the Louisiana Workforce Commission that administers Louisiana workers’ compensation claims, the Office of Workers’ Compensation Administration. Importantly, the OWCA ultimately selects that doctor that will serve as the IME doctor for the examination.
Finally, the acronym “SMO” refers to the term “Second Medical Opinion”. A SMO differs from an IME because it is a medical examination set up by the employer’s workers’ compensation insurance company, and not the OWCA. Like an IME, a SMO doctor is not on the employee’s side, and the SMO doctor’s medical opinion could impact their entitlement to workers’ compensation benefits. Accordingly, it is important for an injured worker seeking workers’ compensation benefits to pay attention to whether a scheduled medical examination is an IME or a SMO. In either case, advanced preparation and consultation with an experienced Louisiana workers’ compensation lawyer is the best thing to do to increase the chances of a good IME or SMO appointment.
Legal Help with Your Louisiana Workers’ Compensation Case
An IME can be used to help support a workers’ workers’ compensation claim. However, it can also be used to deny benefits. The same is true of a SMO. If you were injured on the job and are currently seeking workers’ compensation benefits in Louisiana, or you are interested in doing so, it is important to speak with an experienced Louisiana workers’ compensation lawyer about your rights and next steps. Contact the experienced Louisiana workers’ compensation lawyers at Lunsford Baskin & Priebe today to see if they can help you with your Louisiana workers’ compensation case.