After being injured while on-the-job, it can seem like things move so quickly. The injured employee needs to report the injury immediately but he or she will also need to be evaluated by a workers’ compensation doctor, as well.
It is best to come to these appointments prepared and knowing what to expect.
We have asked lawyer Alaina Sullivan, and here is what she had to say:
Can the Injured Employee Select the Doctor?
“Can I see my own doctor?” This question is normally one of the first asked when injured employees are asked to submit to an independent medical evaluation by the workers’ compensation office.
Some states allow the injured employee to select his or her own doctor to treat his or her injury. It may also depend on the type of injury and the type of medical professional that needs to be seen, such as a medical doctor, surgeon, chiropractor, physical therapist, dentist or optometrist.
Many insurance companies prefer that the individual see a medical professional employed by them to handle the medical report that will provide all of the legal basis for the claim. One thing to keep in mind is that the injured employee only has the right to change the doctor once.
He or she must alert the company when making this change, and any later changes need to be approved by the insurance company.
If the employer requests that the injured employee see a doctor of their choosing, this request must be made through the insurer. If this request is made, he or she must participate in the examination. In fact, the insurer can request that the doctor examine in the injured employee more than once, as often as every 60 days.
What Is an Independent Medical Examination (IME)?
The purpose of this examination is for the insurer to get an independent opinion of what type of medical treatment is needed, the level of the employee’s disability and the course of treatment.
After the exam, the doctor will send a report on the employee’s conditions, so it is extremely important that proper information be given during this exam but also that the injured employee not disclose too much information that will prevent him or her from getting compensation for the injuries sustained.
Do Not Be Rude or Difficult
It may be tempting for the employee to walk into the IME completely on guard because this doctor has been employed the insurance company. However, it does not pay to react in this manner.
Be polite and respectful of the doctor during the examination. If the employee acts hostile during the exam, the doctor may report this behavior and it could be seen as reason to suspect that the employee is being less than honest about his or her injuries.
Do Not Exaggerate the Symptoms
It may also be tempting to act like things are much worse than they really are, but keep in mind that the doctor is likely to see right through this. In fact, these doctors may have a way of detecting that the person is not being honest and is exaggerating the severity of the injury.
Not only will the employee lose credibility, but it may hurt him or her in getting the benefits needed. Along those same lines, do not downplay the symptoms either. Be honest and straightforward when reporting symptoms.
Do Not Lie
Along the same lines of not exaggerating the symptoms, it is absolutely imperative that the person not lie about his or her symptoms. Do not say certain symptoms are occurring when they are, in fact, not.
If the doctor figures this out and discovers that the employee is lying about his or her injuries, the doctor may believe that the employee is also lying about the symptoms he or she is actually experiencing.
Make Sure You Are Honest About Prior Injuries
When you are speaking to the workers' compensation doctor, you should never lie about any preexisting injuries that you may have. This unfortunately can happen because people may think that a preexisting injury can affect their claim, so they may be tempted to lie about it.
The worker's compensation doctor will have access to your medical records and history, so he or she will know if you have any prior injuries. You should not lie to the doctor about that. It is very important that you are honest about medical your medical history.
Do Not Disparage the Employer
It is highly possible that the employee has some ill feelings about the employer after the injury, and it is tempting to make these statements in the heat of the moment. However, it is extremely important that the employee not talk badly about the employer during this exam.
It will get back to the employer, the insurance company and the workers’ compensation board in the event an appeal is filed. It is a good rule of thumb that the employee should not say anything that the employee would not want read at a hearing.
Always be cautious with statements made, especially if they relate to the employer.
Contact a Lawyer Today
If you are in the process of pursuing workers’ compensation and have questions about how to proceed, a workers’ compensation lawyer can help review your case and discuss your options. A lawyer can listen to the facts of the case and can best advise you on how to proceed.
Contact a lawyer experienced in workers’ compensation law to schedule a consultation today.