March 23, 2020 Guest Post – Meuser, Yackley & Rowland “The Impact of Coronavirus (COVID-19) on Workers’ Compensation in Minnesota – Part 2″

Independent Medical Examinations (IMEs) may be cancelled or delayed

One of the most immediate impacts on pending workers’ compensation cases is that Independent Medical Evaluations (IMEs) and Independent Psychological Evaluations (IPEs) that have already been scheduled, are now being cancelled.

Given the CDC’s guidance regarding social distancing, encouraging people to maintain 6-feet of distance between one another, it makes sense that IMEs and IPEs are being cancelled. This makes sense because doctors cannot conduct a thorough physical examination, if they cannot come into close contact with the injured employee.

However, unless you have received notice that your IME has been cancelled, you should assume that it will continue as scheduled. If you feel uncomfortable attending your previously scheduled IME/IPE because you are a member of the “at risk” population (or, you have regular contact with someone who is a member of the “at risk” population), then you should contact your attorney as soon as possible to discuss rescheduling your appointment.

If your IME or IPE appointment is cancelled, then it will need to be rescheduled. This may result in a delay in your workers’ compensation case. Pursuant to Minnesota Statutes section 176.155, subdivision 1, an adverse examination (IME or IPE) “shall be completed and the report of the examination shall be served on the employee and filed with the commissioner within 120 days of service of the claim petition.”

However, an employee’s attorney may grant an extension allowing for an adverse examination to take place, and the report to be filed, more than 120 days after service of the Claim Petition. Even if an employee’s attorney does not voluntarily grant an extension allowing the late filing of an IME or IPE report, a Workers’ Compensation Judge will allow the late filing of an IME or IPE report upon the showing of “good cause.” Undoubtedly, a Workers’ Compensation Judge would receive a late-filed IME or IPE, if the delay was due to the collective effort to contain the spread of Coronavirus.

If you have a pending workers’ compensation case, but you have not yet received notice that you must attend an IME or IPE, expect that it may be a while before your IME or IPE is scheduled. Because IME and IPE appointments will almost certainly be cancelled and rescheduled, injured workers should expect a delay in the scheduling of future appointments, because of the limited number of doctors who conduct IMEs and IPEs.