COMAR 14.09.03.08B(6) was recently amended to allow the Maryland Workers’ Compensation Commission (“WCC”) to order claimants to pay reasonable expenses and costs actually incurred with missed independent medical examinations (“IME”). . The prior regulation only permitted the Commission to award employer/insurers reimbursements up to $125.00 per missed IME. This is now a huge victory for employer/insurers, as the cost of missed IMEs were often far greater than $125.00.
Initially, we hoped that with the ability to award larger sums for reimbursement of IME no-show fees, employers/insurers would suffer fewer financial losses, and claimants would be deterred from missing IME appointments.
Unfortunately, since the passing of this revised regulation, the WCC has still often declined to award full reimbursement of IME no-show fees. Rather, the Commission relied on a trusted doctor to survey various medical practitioners throughout Maryland and to calculate an average no-show fee. According to this doctor, the average no-show fee in Maryland was approximately $350.00. Since this determination, the trend from the Commission is to award no more than $350.00 per missed appointment. Unfortunately, this amount is significantly less than many of the invoices received for IME no-show fees.
Still, it is important to file issues for reimbursement of IME no-show fees, in order to ensure claimants understand the financial implications of missing medical appointments. In order to successfully prevail on issues for reimbursement of IME no-show fees, it is imperative that the employer/insurer’s attorney receive the following documents:
1. The letter sent to claimant and their attorney advising them of the independent medical examination appointment.
2. The invoice from the independent medical examination provider with the no-show fee.
3. The check issued by the employer/insurer for the costs of the no-show fee.
It is vital that the letter sent to claimant and their attorney is sent to the correct addresses. For extra security, the letter should also be emailed to claimant’s attorney with a request for a read receipt. If claimant can prove that they did not receive notice of the IME, the employer/insurer is unlikely to receive reimbursement. Similarly, it is important that IMEs are scheduled well in advance, and that notice of the IME is provided to claimant as soon as possible, in order to allow time for the claimant to make any necessary arrangements to attend the appointment.
If you have any questions on how to pursue issues for reimbursement of IME no-show fees, do not hesitate to contact RSRM’s Workers’ Compensation Department, consisting of Partner Paul Donoghue, Partner Alicyn Campbell, and Associate Ashley Bond.
-- Ashley Bond, Associate