Independent Medical Examination (IME) under Iowa Workers’ Compensation Law

by | Jul 21, 2016

Iowa Code §85.39, provides for employer and employee examinations and provides an employee means to obtain an examination by a physician of their choice at the employer’s expense.

After a compensable injury, the employer may request the employee submit for examination at some reasonable time and place and as often as reasonably requested to a physician, without cost to the employee. The refusal of the employee to submit to the examination shall suspend the employee’s right to any compensation for the period of the refusal.

Iowa Code §85.39 allows for an IME to be charged to the employer, but only after the employer’s retained doctor places the employee at MMI and issues an impairment rating. Pursuant to §85.39 if an evaluation of permanent disability has been made by a physician retained by the employer and the employee believes the evaluation to be too low, the employee is permitted, upon application to the commissioner and upon delivery of a copy of the application to the employer and its insurance carrier, be reimbursed by the employer the reasonable fee for a subsequent examination by a physician of the employee’s own choice, and reasonably necessary transportation expenses incurred for the examination. The physician chosen by the employee has the right to confer with and obtain from the employer-retained physician sufficient history of the injury to make a proper examination.

The Iowa Supreme Court has recently ruled that adhering to the requirements of §85.39 is the only method for reimbursement of an “examination” by a physician of the employee’s choosing. An employee cannot seek reimbursement for an examination under 876-4.33. The Supreme Court did hold that an employee can seek reimbursement of a portion of the physician’s “written report” under 876-4.33, but the expense of the actual examination is not included.

For questions or additional information on this topic, please contact Baylor Evnen Iowa Workers’ Compensation attorney Paul T. Barta at or by phone at 402.475.1075.