What Happens If A Doctor Finds Nothing Wrong With A Workers’ Comp Client?
In workers compensation cases, there is always the possibility that a 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 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 Dr. 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 Dr. A general practice doctor will be believed over a chiropractor.
So what happens if a doctor finds nothing wrong with the workers comp client? That depends on what kind of Dr. 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 Dr. (a doctor hired by and recommended by the company). A company recommended Dr. Austin 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 Dr. who you choose and who is on your side is the smartest thing you can do in a workers comp case.
If you’re treating Dr. and the company’s IME doctor disagree, there are usually several options. 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 Dr.”. Of course, if the tiebreaker 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 Dr. 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 consultations and I never charge a fee until we went, so relax and call me. I am happy to help.