A few months back, a Tennessee law went into effect that weakened the independent medical exam (IME) in workers’ comp cases.

This was a terrible blow to injured workers across the state, who depend on the IME to show an accurate account of how injured they really are. It’s the only place they can turn when an all-powerful doctor, approved by the insurance industry, tells them they aren’t disabled and should just go back to work.

But it appears the Tennessee Supreme Court sees the value in IMEs.

In a unanimous opinion, the judges decided last week that original doctors couldn’t override the opinion of a third IME.

The original case involved two doctors’ opinions which differed from each other. To find a solution, Bridgestone (the tire company where the employee was injured) asked that a third doctor be brought in for an IME.

The trial court denied the request; but the Supreme Court’s decision says that actually, an IME is perfectly fine in this situation.

Granted, this was for a jury case back in 2008 – before the new laws went into effect – but the decision makes an important statement about the future of workers’ comp in Memphis and in TN at large.

One thing workers’ comp lawyers have always been able to offer is the IME, which helps you get a better rating. It prevents one set of doctors from controlling the whole industry and taking advantage of injured workers. It also helps protect you financially, especially if you’re ever fired or retaliated against because of your injury.

As a workers’ comp lawyer in Memphis, I believe the IME is just as important as the first doctor’s opinion, if not more important. It’s often a more objective opinion than what you get from doctors with ties to the big corporations. And it helps people in desperate situations prove to a judge or jury how desperate they really are.

So I applaud the decision by the TN Supreme Court and hope it will lead to some serious changes in our new workers’ comp law.

Injured at work? Our Memphis workers’ comp lawyers can help. Contact us today to get started with a free conversation.

(Photo: TN Supreme Court building – from the TN State Library and Archives)