Your workers’ compensation doctor has a huge impact on your workers’ compensation claim. The doctor will tell you what kind of treatment you need, how long you are unable to work, and how your injury will affect you for years to come.
Because their opinion is so crucial, your doctor must have the right information to develop an accurate opinion. You should keep in mind that your doctor has two competing interests in mind in every workers’ compensation case—the insurance company and the injured worker.
As an injured worker, you want to be sure you get the treatment you need to get back to as normal as possible. While the insurance company may want that too, they also tend to ask for conservative opinions that may not address all of your medical needs. They may also push to send you back to work before you are ready, as well.
What you say to your doctor will affect your workers’ compensation claim. In some situations, it is important to choose your words carefully.
What You Shouldn’t Tell Your Workers’ Comp Doctor
Here is a quick list of things that you should never say to your workers’ comp doctor, even if you are getting a second opinion:
- Never lie about your previous injuries or pre-existing medical treatment or conditions.
- Never lie about the extent of your work injury or how it happened.
- Do not exaggerate your symptoms, including pain or functionality.
- Avoid delaying medical treatment; delays often only make your condition worse and decrease your chances of a full recovery.
- Do not stop treatment before you are fully recovered.
You should never lie to your treating doctor or the employer’s insurance company, whether through malingering (lying about having symptoms) or downplaying them. Keep in mind that your medical records will provide a full medical history, so saying that certain injuries in the past did not happen or were not that bad will simply make you look untrustworthy. Once a treating doctor cannot trust what you are saying, then he or she may not be able to give you proper medical care.
Remember that your ultimate goal is to get back to work and be as fully functional as possible. Being honest with your treating doctor and ensuring you get the right medical care will help you with that goal.
About Independent Medical Examinations
An independent medical examination (IME) is used as a second opinion in many cases. Your employer’s insurance company will often ask for an IME once you have reached maximum medical improvement or MMI to determine the extent of your injuries. MMI does not mean that you have fully recovered, but you are often as good as you are going to get under the circumstances.
The IME addresses your functional limitations to determine how a work injury has changed your ability to do your job. The IME doctor will often consider things like your pain level, range of motion, and how the injury has affected your life. They will provide an opinion about things like:
- The extent of your injury
- What caused the injury
- What additional treatment you may need
The insurance company can ask for an IME to evaluate you every six months. Because the IME doctor’s opinion is extremely important in your workers’ comp case, you must be upfront and honest with this doctor.
Be sure that you explain all of your symptoms and limitations without exaggerating. Giving the doctor accurate and complete information will increase the likelihood that you get a fair assessment.
What You Should Say to your Workers’ Compensation Doctor
If you are not honest with your doctor, you run the risk of delaying weekly payments for your work-related injury. You may also have medical treatment denied in some circumstances as well.
For instance, when there is a dispute that must be decided by a workers’ compensation judge, he or she will take your credibility into account when deciding your case. If your medical records show that you are lying about previous conditions or it seems like you are exaggerating your symptoms, the judge is less likely to decide in your favor.
On the other hand, it is very important that you tell your doctor about all of your symptoms, pain, and other issues, even if you may not think your problems are directly related to your work injury. You may be surprised how much your work injury affects various aspects of your life.
When talking to your doctor, be thorough, but be honest. Try your best to explain your pain and limitations in a practical way by providing examples and describing your work-related injury as accurately as possible.
Worried About What to Tell Your Doctor? Talk to a Workers Compensation Lawyer First
Before any medical evaluation pertaining to your workers’ comp claim, talk to an attorney if you are worried about what to say to your doctor or you’re unsure about explaining certain aspects of your medical history.
Our law firm has handled hundreds of cases just like yours, and we can help you develop the right language to use so that you are honest but thorough with your treating doctor.
Explore our resources if you would like more information. You can also call to set up a free consultation to discuss your workers’ comp case.