Baltimore Workers’ Compensation Lawyers : Bias in Workers’ Compensation Medical Exams

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Under Maryland Workers’ Compensation law, if you are injured on the job you have the right to choose your own doctor for treatment. Your employer’s insurance company also has the right to send you to one of their own doctors for an opinion. This is known as an independent medical examination (IME.) It is not uncommon for opinions between physicians to differ greatly. This is often attributed to some form of bias on the part of physicians. Unfortunately, bias can have a significant impact on your Workers’ Compensation claim if not handled properly by an experienced and skilled Baltimore Workers’ Compensation lawyer.

First, it should be noted that the term “independent” should not be assumed to mean “impartial.” Rather, it means that the examination is taking place independent of a typical doctor-patient relationship. The examining physician is not your doctor, will not prescribe any treatment and is not bound by confidentially rules. He or she is hired for the sole purpose of issuing an opinion about the extent of your illness or injury and provide testimony that can be used to determine your eligibility for Workers’ Compensation benefits. Because the physician is hired by the insurance company, it seems natural to conclude that his or her opinion will lean towards serving their best interests, and not yours.

However, bias is not solely designated to the IME physician, but can also exist within a traditional doctor-patient relationship. Due to the nature of this relationship, treating physicians are typically more inclined to defer to their patients’ subjective complaints and assessment of their own ability to perform daily tasks and the duties of their job. As such, they are likely to prescribe treatment and issue an opinion that they feel best serves the interest of their patient.

It is for this reason that the courts will consider any testimony provided by the treating physician or physicians, as well as the opinion of the independent medical examiner hired by the insurance company. More importantly, it is also the reason why you should avoid making any mistakes during your IME that could possibly hurt your claim, such as giving too much or too little information during your exam. It is highly advisable to talk to your Workers’ Compensation lawyer before your IME appointment. Your attorney will inform you of your rights and review the steps you can take to ensure you are treated fairly and that your disability is assessed accurately.

Baltimore Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton Advocate on Behalf of Maryland Workers Injured at Work

For more than 30 years, the Baltimore Workers’ Compensation lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton have been helping those injured at work obtain maximum compensation for their injuries. To discuss your Baltimore Workers’ Compensation claim with one of our highly skilled attorneys, call 844-556-4LAW (4529) today to schedule your free consultation or submit an online contact form.