Workers Comp Doctor and the Case
In workers compensation cases, there is always the possibility that a workers comp doctor will find nothing wrong with a workers comp client.
Treating doctors are very important witnesses in every kind of injury case. But treating doctors, and what their opinions are, are of utmost importance to a workers comp client.
That’s because only a doctor can testify about the nature and extent of injury as well as causation. In workers comp cases, causation refers to a doctor’s opinion as to whether the injury is work related. If an injury is not work-related, then you cannot recover for it in a workers comp case. So you see, every workers comp client must have a Dr. on their side to say that the injuries are a result of a work-related incident.
However, there are more doctors than just treating workers comp doctors that a workers comp client may encounter. These doctors are called IME doctors. IME stands for independent medical examiner. But IME doctors are anything but independent. 100% of the time, these doctors are hired by an insurance company or the employer to minimize the injury sustained by the injured worker, or to deny that the injury was sustained in a work-related accident.
Doesn’t this seem unfair to you? Why is it okay for the employer to hire a Dr. just to say that you and your treating Dr. are lying?
Fortunately, my experience is that the judges/arbitrators at the commission usually give more weight to what a treating doctor says rather than what an IME doctor says. That is not always the case. Some treating doctors for various reasons have earned a reputation for claiming every injury under the sun is related to work activities. On the other hand, many IME doctors have developed a similar reputation. It comes down to the specialty of the Dr. and their reputation. So a surgeon, who has received more education and has more expertise than a general practice Dr., will usually be believed over the general practice doctor. A general practice doctor will be believed over a chiropractor.
So what happens if a Workers Comp doctor finds nothing wrong with the workers comp client?
That depends on what kind of doctor we are talking about. If your own treating Dr. says that there is nothing wrong with you, you are in trouble. Workers comp clients often agree to treat with a company doctor (a doctor hired by and recommended by the company).
A company recommended doctor has mixed loyalties, and will often release a patient before they are really ready to go back to work or will otherwise minimize the injuries. Having a good independent doctor who you choose and who is on your side is the smartest thing you can do in a workers comp case.
Here is how it works with a company doctor: many times, the company doctor’s main source of patients are work injury patients sent by the Company or the Workes Comp insurance company. So during treatment, the company doctors has a financial interest in relating your case to the work related injury, and ordering medical care. But once the doctor has rendered a bill and collected some money, he or she can start thinking about how to minimize the cost to the company.
Why? Because the Company doctor wants more business in the future. So if the company doctor sends you away while you need more help, that makes the Company happy because they are saving money, and if the insurance company is happy, the doctor naturally thinks that he will get more business from the Company. And it usually works that way. Go along to get along, but in this case, it is to the detriment of the injured worker, and I do not let this happen in Workers Comp cases in my office.
First, if your lawyer thinks that you’re treating Dr. is credible, you can go to court and hope that the arbitrator decides that your Dr. is correct and the IME doctor is not correct.
You could also go see a specialist for a second opinion, and if they agree with you, you have a much better chance at trial.
Your workers compensation lawyer may also be able to get the company or workers comp insurance company to agree to a “tiebreaking doctor”. Of course, if the tiebreaker Workers Comp doctor agrees with the company, you have problems, so this can be a dangerous agreement to make.
No matter what your situation, make sure that you are treating with a Workers Comp doctor who is on your side and that you have a lawyer who understands your situation and will fight for you and your rights. Positioning cases in the circumstances about strategy, and it helps to hire an attorney with experience.
I offer free case evaluation and I never charge a fee until we went, so relax and call me. I am happy to help.
If you have been hurt or have questions about an injury case, I offer injured people a copy of my FREE Injury DVD and Book. Just call me at my 24/7/365 toll free number 888-HURT-318 (888-487-8318) and ask for the free injury book, and give us you name and mailing address and I will mail it to you free of charge and no obligtion. Or if you are ready to talk, call that same number and ask to speak with me!
You can learn more about Workers Comp by clicking here.