There are doctors who must apply and be approved of by the Workers’ Compensation Board. Once approved, these doctors are authorized by workers’ compensation to treat injured claimants.
The Workers’ Compensation Board website has a list of doctors who cover every field of medicine, from orthopedists to surgeons. In most cases, you can see the doctor you want to see.
There are rare situations where employers contract with a medical organization or network, and the injured employee will have to see doctors in that network, but it comes into play mostly for MRIs and certain diagnostic tests.
Q: Is it a concern that the doctors working for the workers’ compensation insurers are going to minimize their perception of my injuries?
Independent medical examinations can be frustrating and confusing to claimants because it might appear the claim doesn’t necessarily agree with the insurance company. However, they are all board-certified physicians, which is a higher standard required to maintain their approval with the Worker’s Compensation Board.
If there are continued issues with a doctor’s diagnosis or treatment of injured workers, the board can investigate, and possibly remove the physician’s right to treat workers in cases where testimony is taken from doctors.
When representing an injured employee, we always focus on showing that the doctor issuing the opinion is credible, and we work with injured employees to make sure we address any fears or concerns they may have about their diagnosis and treatment.
Q: When representing an injured worker, do you hire private doctors to re-examine your client?
Under workers’ compensation law, the injured employee applies to see his or her treating physician at least every 90 days for follow-up reports assessing their degree of continuing disability.
For example, let’s say that an employee gets hurt on the job and needs surgery. After surgery, the employee’s doctor may find the worker totally disabled. Six months later, the workers’ compensation insurance company then sends the injury victim to an independent medical evaluator (IME) and finds that perhaps the injured worker now is 50% disabled. In this case, the workers’ comp insurer would then file a request to lower the injured worker’s payments.
When we are representing the injured worker, we would take the testimony and a deposition of the claimant’s doctor and the IME doctor. Then we would have the judge review the doctors’ reports and testimony to determine which doctor she finds more credible.
We would maintain that your doctor is more credible. In this situation, you don’t hire a doctor, it would be your treating physician you’re entitled to rely on.