Workers who are injured on the job need to know what will affect their worker’s comp claim and their treatment.
Most injured workers don’t realize the doctor who’s been picked by the insurance company is not a family doctor. Many times workers go to be evaluated for their first injury and are not used to this kind of doctor. The insurance company hires them to give the minimum amount of care that’s called for by medical treatment standards at the time.
These doctors have been told at training and conferences that the majority of injured workers are fakers, malingerers, exaggerators. Many of these doctors think it’s their job to play Sherlock Holmes and figure out who are the liars. It is really important that injured workers understand everything they say and do, even in waiting in the waiting room, is going to be observed.
Be very, very aware of your surroundings. You can be watched as you get out of your car and go into the waiting room, as well as when you go from the waiting room to the examining room. The doctors and staff are watching you at all times to see how you appear and how you behave when you are not being examined versus when you are being examined. All of this is to do the work comp carrier a favor and help them deny a claim. This is true whether you’re seeing the company doctor, the emergency room, your own family physician, a chiropractor or another health professional.
The first visit is critical to your claim.
That first medical visit and what that doctor writes down is critical, absolutely critical. When we see workers who have been denied a claim we look at the doctor’s written report. The insurance is looking at the written medical report and we can guarantee the judge will be looking at what the doctor wrote down about how a worker was injured and exactly what they said in the exam. If you say, “I don’t know how this happened. I just woke up with this pain. I don’t know,” we are going to lose. If you say you got injured at home, we’re going to lose.
Unfortunately, many people get injured and suffer multiple injuries. The ones that they complain about the most are the ones that are causing them the most pain. That’s called, in the Workers’ Compensation system, by physicians as a distracting injury. In other words, the patient is only focusing on that which is the most painful but is forgetting about the other injuries they may have sustained.
The problem with that is upon the first reporting of the injury, all the doctor writes down is that one injury the patient was focusing on versus the others. The other injuries can start feeling more painful afterward. When the worker goes back to the doctor in a week’s time and reports that they have a back injury or a neck injury or something else it can be problematic for the claim because the insurance carrier does not want to take responsibility for all the injuries. The line of questioning in these cases can be: “Well, were you truthful with the doctor?” “Yes.” “And did you tell the doctor everything that hurt?” “Yes.” “Well, the doctor didn’t write down that you had back pain. Therefore, you didn’t have back pain as a result of this injury.” Then the case is denied.