Don’t jeopardize your work injury claim!
Learn what not to say to a workers comp doctor.
If you’ve been injured at work, you’re probably very grateful for your employer’s workers’ comp insurance. Being able to receive free medical care without having to chip away at your own savings can be a lifeline for most Florida workers.
But whether you receive those benefits is not entirely in your hands.
It is up to the worker’s compensation insurance company to decide whether to accept or deny your claim, and one of the factors they will use to come to that decision is the expert medical opinion of your workers’ compensation doctor.
Your Workers’ Comp Doctor
There are three types of doctors that are involved in workers’ compensation claims.
When you first file your claim, you will meet with an authorized treating physician. In most cases, you will not have a choice when it comes to this person; the insurance company will select a doctor for you.
In the event there is a dispute about your claim, you may be examined by an independent medical examiner (IME). Both you and the workers’ comp insurance company may request an examination by an IME. Each party chooses their IME doctor and pays the cost of same.
The final type of doctor is an expert medical advisor (EMA). An EMA is a doctor appointed to serve as the Judge of Compensation Claims’ expert. This type of doctor only comes into play when there is something that doctors in your case disagree on (such as what conditions you have, whether your conditions are related to your accident, what your work status is, or what treatment you need).
In most cases, you will be seeing a doctor selected by the workers’ comp insurance provider, so you will have to be very careful about what you say during your exam. The doctor is being paid by the insurance company, so they are highly motivated to say that you are not as injured as you claim to be.
Even if you are seeing a doctor of your own choosing, it is important to remember that this person has the ability to bring your workers’ comp claim to a grinding halt.
What Not to Say To a Workers’ Comp Doctor
In some ways, your appointment with your authorized treating physician and IME will closely resemble an appointment with your general practitioner. Yet there is one very important distinction.
From the moment you first file your workers’ comp claim, expect that the insurance company is watching your every move—including your doctor visits.
With that in mind, here is what not to say to a workers comp doctor or IME.
1. Don’t Arrive Late or Skip Appointments
The first way to communicate that you are taking your claim seriously is to show up early to your appointments. If you arrive late (or not at all), this may send the impression that you are not actually injured.
Similarly, if your doctor recommends any follow-up treatment, make sure you take it. Not following your doctor’s advice could reflect very badly on your claim or even cause it to be denied.
2. Don’t Lie
Your workers comp doctor is trained to spot inconsistencies in your story and has a vast deal of medical experience. They will be able to compare your story against your injury and tell if you are lying.
Things will go badly for you if you skip from your car but start limping as soon as you walk into the office, so don’t exaggerate or falsify your injuries (that’s fraud).
You also don’t want to downplay your injuries. You might think that your pain “isn’t that bad” because you can still walk without crutches, but this could cause your claim to be denied.
3. Don’t Leave Out Details
If you have a past injury or pre-existing condition, you may be worried that your doctor will use this information against you (and rightly so). However, don’t get cute with this.
If you fail to provide an accurate medical history or provide false, incomplete, or misleading information about your current functional ability, these statements could be used against you to try to establish a misrepresentation/fraud defense. If this is established, it is a third-degree felony.
4. Don’t Bad Mouth Your Employer
Your doctor’s job is to assess and treat your workplace injury, not to change the safety conditions at your job. While you should be as honest as possible when explaining how your injury occurred, keep your emotions out of it.
Bad mouthing your employer only puts you in a bad light, which is something you want to avoid.
5. Don’t Be Rude To the Doctor
Have you ever heard the saying, “You can catch more flies with honey than vinegar”? This is one instance where that rings true.
Even if your workers’ comp doctor is working on the side of the insurance company, there is no good reason to be rude to them. In fact, it can jeopardize your case.
Dress well, be polite, and show respect.
Workers’ Compensation Attorney Can Help
It can be difficult to know exactly what to say to your doctor, but this is exactly the type of guidance a workers comp attorney can give.
From offering advice to negotiating a settlement amount, a workers’ compensation lawyer can make your claim process easier and less stressful, allowing you to focus on your recovery. And because they are paid only if they secure benefits or a settlement for you, you don’t have anything to lose.
If you suffered a work injury in Central Florida, call the Law Office of Brian D. Tadros today to schedule your free consultation. We have helped many people just like you reach a satisfactory conclusion to their case and we look forward to helping you too.