If you have suffered a work-related injury, you may need to see a workers’ compensation doctor in order to follow your employer’s insurance protocols and be eligible for workers’ compensation insurance benefits. These protocols can help you claim compensation for any lost earnings and medical bills as a result of an injury at work.
In the immediate aftermath of being injured at work, you must report the injury to your manager in order for them to contact their workers’ compensation insurance company. They will then offer you a meeting with a workers’ compensation doctor. This is because employers are liable for any injuries caused to employees at work.
If you have suffered an injury at work and are in the State of Florida, our lawyers can help gather evidence to present to your employer’s insurance company and help you navigate your workers’ compensation doctor meetings. Contact one of our experienced lawyers at The Law Place on (941) 444-4444 for a free consultation today. Our phone lines are open 24 hours, 7 days a week, so you can contact us as soon as you need us.
What Is a Workers’ Compensation Doctor?
A workers’ compensation doctor is just as qualified as any other treating physician but will communicate between you, an insurance company, and your employer. In addition, these doctors won’t charge you as the medical bills will be passed onto the employer’s insurance company.
Being treated by a worker’s compensation doctor will also give you access to doctors specializing in fields such as neurology or orthopedics if you require them. This means you can use your workers’ compensation claim benefits whilst also receiving a high quality of care.
A workers’ compensation doctor holds a lot of power and will be in communications with you, your employer, the employer’s insurance company, and your lawyer. This doctor may be able to determine if you can return to work – they can approve light work duties for you or confirm if your injury prevents you from working at all.
Throughout the course of your case, it’s important to regularly update your doctor on your condition, whether it improves or deteriorates. This will keep your injury documentation up to date and factually correct.
It’s important to be aware that your employer’s insurance company may pick your workers’ compensation doctor. Bear this in mind when discussing your case with the doctor. The doctor will be thorough in regards to your medical examination, but it’s important to be aware of what you discuss with them and that this will be relayed to the insurance company.
The aim of a workers’ compensation doctor is to restore an employer back to their pre-injury form and maintain a healthy workforce for the business.
Types of Injuries That Are Covered by Workers’ Compensation
You may be wondering which injuries are covered by workers’ compensation. There are many individual injuries that are covered, but a general list is covered below. It is important to remember you must provide sufficient evidence that your injury was caused at work.
- Physical injury – This covers broken bones, lacerations, and even back pain.
- Illness – This can include illnesses that develop over many years.
- Overuse – Overuse or repetition can cause injuries such as carpal tunnel.
- Hearing loss – This is a common injury for those working in loud environments such as factories.
- Stress – Stress is an extremely common work-related issue that can cause physical and mental illnesses, all of which can be covered by workers’ compensation.
Questions to Ask Your Workers’ Compensation Doctor
Your initial meeting with a workers’ compensation doctor should be a two-way conversation. As your doctor will likely ask you many questions, it is important to also ask your doctor some questions. Some questions we recommend you ask are as follows.
- Diagnosis – Having a clear understanding of your diagnosis will give you an idea of what to expect from your recovery and life after the injury. If you do not understand your diagnosis at all, it is important to ask questions and be informed about what your doctor has diagnosed you with. A definite diagnosis will also help your workplace to calculate when you will return and the insurance company to understand the extent of your injury.
- Treatment – A clear knowledge of any tests or therapy you may need will allow you to judge the extent of your injury as well as the time frame for recovery. This will also prepare you for any limitations to your life or work as a result of the injury and treatments.
- Complications – Some injuries and illnesses are susceptible to future complications, and this will help you to gauge your healing process. It is vital to know what your future may look like after this injury and any long-term treatments that may be required.
- Returning to work – A timeline of when you’re fit to return to work will depend on the extent of your injury or illness. In addition, knowing how this injury could impact your duties at work will properly inform your employer about when you will be fit to return. Whilst you are still healing, your doctor may sign you off for light duties at work to reduce the chance of further injury.
Topics to Discuss With Your Workers’ Compensation Doctor
The discussions you have with your workers’ compensation doctor can be highly sensitive, and they will have a significant impact on your claim. For this reason, it is recommended to speak with an injury lawyer prior to your first meeting with a workers’ compensation doctor. Not being able to answer a question or being unprepared could damage your claim. The topics you must discuss when meeting your workers’ compensation doctors are:
- Your work-related injury that you can seek compensation for.
- Your entire illness history.
- Your symptoms of injury.
- How this has impacted any duties at home or work.
- Your pain and suffering.
- Medical treatment received for the specific injury (this can be immediate, such as the ambulance required, but also long-term, such as every physiotherapy session you received after).
- Quality of life.
- Side effects of any medication.
We would recommend keeping a diary of your injury and medical treatment, as well as how it progresses over time, whether that be improving or deteriorating. Photo evidence of physical injuries could also be beneficial. By keeping a log, you won’t need to remember dates, doctor’s information, and details off the top of your head, and you will be able to provide your workers’ compensation doctor with detailed insight into your injury and the weeks that followed.
Topics Not to Discuss With Your Workers’ Compensation Doctor
In addition to topics you will need to discuss, there are just as many topics to be wary of. Remember that this doctor will have an influence on your compensation claim, so it’s important to be honest in any meetings. The discussions you have will likely be passed onto your employer and employer’s insurance company.
- Don’t make your injury seem mild if it isn’t.
- Don’t lie about the extent of your injury or make it seem worse than it is.
- Don’t withhold information about what caused your injury.
- Avoid discussing any grievances you may have with your employer.
If your injury was caused as a result of negligence in the workplace, it is natural to feel some anger towards your employer, but it is vital you keep any negative comments in regard to your employer to yourself. Aim to keep the focus of the discussions on your health. As a general rule, be aware that everything you discuss with the doctor will likely be relayed to the insurance company and then your employer.
Meetings and medical exams with a worker’s compensation doctor are complex matters, so we recommend discussing your case with an experienced injury lawyer first. This will help you feel prepared for the meeting with a workers’ compensation doctor about what to discuss. All communications with your lawyer are confidential, and only ‘need-to-know’ details will be passed onto the employer’s insurance company. This confidentiality is covered under the attorney-client relationship across the State of Florida.
Common Work Place Injuries
It is vital to report every single injury you may receive at work. Every place of work will have a designated first aider and an injury report book. Even if an injury seems minor, such as a cut, it is important to record them in case the injury becomes much more severe, for example, an infection in a cut. Injuries will differ with each workplace, but there are some common injuries that worker’s compensation doctors see on a more regular basis.
- Soreness and pain – This is often one of the most common reasons for employees missing days from work. Pain caused by an injury at work is often avoidable and as a result of a repetitive strain injury.
- Sprains and strains – Another common injury at work is sprains and strains, which are often caused by incorrectly lifting anything heavy or slipping over at work.
- Cuts – Any lacerations received at work are often a result of improper use of equipment. It is important to be up to date with any training for equipment to prevent cuts caused by equipment and to be covered by insurance.
- Illness – It is important to remember that workplace injuries can also include illnesses. A common example of a work-related illness is diseases caused by contact with asbestos. This can be more difficult to prove as the diseases usually take years to develop. An experienced lawyer will be able to help prove this work-related illness. However, it is much more difficult to prove you contracted a minor illness, such as the flu, whilst being at work because there are many ways you can come into contact with this virus. When filing a complaint about contracting an illness at work, you will need sufficient evidence to prove this.
- Death – In extreme cases, death may be the result of an accident at work, which will be described as wrongful death.
How to Prove a Work-Related Injury
The first meeting with a workers’ compensation doctor will help to medically determine your injury and make a formal log of it. It is important to explain your symptoms and injury during this meeting.
However, it is also important to provide evidence to prove the injury happened whilst at work. A lawyer will be able to assist you with gathering the appropriate evidence. An experienced lawyer will be able to help you arrange medical appointments, gather doctor’s notes that detail your injury, and organize tests that can prove the injury happened at work. This type of evidence will fulfill the burden of proof needed to confirm your accident did happen at your workplace.
There may be documentation from your place of employment that proves the injury happened at work. Gathering this evidence is something your lawyer will be able to do. This evidence could include any CCTV, a medical/first aid logbook, and documentation proving the time you spent off work.
What to Expect From an Independent Medical Examination With a Workers’ Compensation Doctor
The initial meeting with a workers’ compensation doctor is called an independent medical examination (IME). This exam is not to treat your injury but for the doctor to assess the extent of your injuries.
The doctor will ask you about your work-related injury and your medical history, as well as any other questions that they believe are relevant to your injury. A physical examination may also take place.
It is important to remember that every meeting with a workers’ compensation doctor will be different, so anyone you know that may have had one in the past could vastly differ from your experience with a workers’ compensation doctor.
An IME will usually be called if the insurance company wishes to conduct a second opinion with your current diagnosis from the treating physician or the diagnosis is serious, such as disability. Try not to let this examination worry you, but it is vital to comply with the examination to receive the full benefits of your workers’ compensation benefits.
During the examination, the doctor will assess your physical health. This can include your ability to sit and stand, any limp or clear discomfort when you move, and your ability to get in/out of your car.
Dealing With Insurance Companies
It’s important to remember that insurance companies are a business, and profit is important to them. When you make a compensation claim, the insurance company will be paying out, so they will try to pay as little as possible.
It is recommended that you contact an experienced lawyer so they can effectively communicate with the insurance company. This will reduce the stress on you but also means a lawyer can fight for the right amount of compensation.
In some cases, insurance companies may try to contact a workers’ compensation doctor about the treatments they will approve. In this case, a lawyer can act on your behalf and remind the insurance company that they have no say on medical interventions needed. Their job is to pay for the treatment, medication, and surgery that is recommended by the workers’ compensation doctor.
Call The Law Place Today
A work-related injury can be extremely stressful, but organizing a worker compensation claim is important to receive any compensation you deserve. As filing these complaints can be time-consuming, it is recommended to have a lawyer who is knowledgeable about the process in order for your case to be successful. An experienced lawyer from The Law Place can assist you with your claim to make the process as easy as possible for you.
Our lawyers can communicate with insurance companies, work out how much compensation you deserve, and then help your case, so you’re awarded the correct compensation. Our lawyers have worked on countless cases of work-related injuries to win the compensation that they deserve.
If you have been injured at work in Florida and need personal injury advice, contact a lawyer at The Law Place on (941) 444-4444. Our phone lines are open 24 hours, 7 days a week, so you can contact us to book your free consultation at a time that suits you.