We are all conditioned to believe that when we see a doctor, that doctor is there to help us, heal us, and has our best interests at heart. Doctors are supposed to follow the Hippocratic Oath which is, “first do no harm.” Yet, there are many doctors who do not uphold their Hippocratic Oath. There are some doctors who make considerable amounts of money and live very comfortable lives by ultimately harming the patients they treat. They do this by overlooking or minimizing clear clinical evidence of their patients’ injuries. This happens regularly in the worker’s compensation context.
If you are injured at work, you are normally entitled to Worker’s Compensation benefits. These include medical (healthcare) and indemnity (wages) benefits. Throughout the United States, employers enjoy a unique type of immunity from lawsuits when their employees get injured. Employers have worker’s compensation insurance that covers the costs of healthcare and lost wages. Employers are immune from having to pay for the pain and suffering that you experience as a result of your workplace injuries and because your employer has a worker’s compensation insurance policy, the insurance company gets to pick the doctor you see for treatment.
Be forewarned. This doctor does not work for you. This doctor will likely claim that they are “independent,” but you shouldn’t believe them. They work for the insurance company and their goal is to limit the amount of medical care you receive. It is important that you are honest with this doctor, but keep in mind that this doctor is looking for ways to make sure you receive minimal medical care or indemnity benefits. This doctor is not there to help you.
There is a natural interest on the part of the insurance company to stop paying for your benefits and your worker’s compensation doctor is working on behalf of that insurance company. The consequence of this medical treatment will have an impact if you are receiving lost wages or ongoing medical care.
And there is more.
Your worker’s comp doctor’s opinions can have a considerable negative impact if you have a third party claim against someone other than your employer. You need to be aware that the defendant in your third party case will use these insurance-driven medical diagnoses against you.
If you say something to your worker’s compensation doctor, you have to assume the defense lawyer will find out. Defense lawyers in your third party case will attempt to argue that the “independent” medical exam in the worker’s compensation case establishes that you are not really injured, can go back to work or did not suffer long-term effects from the injury. These insurance-driven opinions can seriously undermine your ability to recover in a third-party case in which you can recover “pain and suffering” damages.
If you see a worker’s compensation doctor who claims that your injuries are healed or that you can go back to work (and you know differently), you have to immediately contact the lawyer who is handling your case. If you hear from the worker’s compensation insurance doctor that you can “return to work,” again, immediately contact your lawyer handling the third party case to set up an appointment to see a doctor whose first allegiance is not to an insurance company, but to your well being.
Your lawyer handling the third party case will ensure you see a doctor who upholds their Hippocratic Oath. Your worker’s compensation doctor is not that person.
At Messa & Associates, we are committed to improving patient safety. Virtually every day, we console clients whose lives have been irreparably changed because hospitals and physicians put profit before their patients and/or deviate from standards of care. We feel the impact that these harms and losses have on victims, their families, and their friends. We remain frustrated by witnessing the number of preventable errors that routinely occur.
The medical malpractice attorneys at Messa & Associates are experienced in handling complex medical malpractice cases, including but not limited to MRSA infections, surgical site infections, foreign objects, missed diagnoses, surgical errors, and treatment errors/negligence. If you or a loved one has fallen victim to medical negligence at a hospital, nursing home, or rehab facility, act quickly. Call a medical malpractice attorney from Messa & Associates today, before your rights to legal compensation have expired. Call 877-MessaLaw for a free consultation or submit an inquiry online for a free case evaluation.
Tom Sweeney concentrates his practice in complex personal injury cases including premises liability, toxic tort, medical malpractice, products liability, construction injuries, civil rights, and other catastrophic injury cases. He is licensed to practice law in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Virginia and has practiced before trial and appellate judges in both state and federal courts.