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Independent Medical Exams for Missouri Workers Compensation

Independent medical exams

Part of what an attorney will do for you and part of what we do for our clients is there are things called independent medical exams where we have to employ an expert medical witness sometimes in a varying field. It may be a medical doctor that's specifically going to address medical issues from a physical standpoint. It could be a psychologist or psychiatrist that's specifically referencing and talking about mental issues. It could be a vocational expert, somebody who talks about whether or not you're capable of employment.

Those independent exams are crucial if there's any kind of a conflict about your case, in other words, if it's being denied in any way, shape, or form. The doctor that you choose is important because the way they say things is important. Not only that they give an opinion that "yes, I think this is related" or not, but what words they use and how it's phrased can make a drastic difference in whether you are successful at a hearing or whether you're successful improving your case or not.

For instance, in Kansas which we don't do a lot of practice in, but sometimes a judge will point an independent evaluator. In Missouri, we are going out as an attorney for our client and picking a doctor that we want to do the report. Let's say, for instance, if you've got an issue about whether or not your work injury happened at work or was it caused by what event happened to you at work, that's going to be a question is called causation, and it's going to be a question that is unnecessary to have a medical opinion answer.

A lot of times, opposing councils, the insurance company, the employer will employ a doctor who will say this is not work-related. At that point, it's important for us to get an opinion that says whether it is or not from our perspective. The person is still an independent; in other words, we're not telling them what to say, but they know how to couch things in the proper terminology. If they believe that the work injury was the cause of the problem, it can vary from causation was it caused by what happened to me at work.

It can also come to play when you need an opinion about what permanency there is, in other words, what disability do I have, how much am I disabled because of my injury. Same thing as far as the need for further or additional medical treatment. Let's say you go to the doctor for your employer, that person says that you're as good as you're going to get and that you don't need any more treatment. Well, at that point in time, if we send you to somebody else and that doctor says, "No, I think you do need more treatment," then we can go to what's called a hardship procedure where we can get that treatment ordered to help you get on down the road and get better.

I wouldn't say it's all the time, but it's very often that you as an injured worker are being sent to someone at either an occupational medicine clinic or even specifically some time at a different orthopedic clinics where they do a lot of work on the behalf of insurance companies. Whether or not it's directly "Hey, I know I'm going to get paid by the insurance company, so I'm going to write this opinion a certain way" or it's they just choose more conservative doctors, I don't know which one of those is true. But many times when you're sent to some physician by the employer insurance company in your case, that position is going to be looking at you with a very conservative lens as far as what's happened to you, what treatment might be necessary, and when you get released from that treatment.

It is David V. Goliath. You as an injured worker have very little ability to receive knowledge about what's going on with your claim. You have no ability to choose the physician that you see. And to the statute in the state of Missouri, the employer or the insurance company has the right to choose the doctor if they're going to pay for it. So, they get to say where you go, which means they get to pick the person that they feel like is going to be in their best interest, not necessarily you as the individual, not necessarily you as the injured worker.

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