Fighting for Your Workers’ Comp Benefits in North Alabama
When you have been injured while on the job, you are generally entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. At McCutcheon & Hamner, we provide legal help for those seeking such benefits. As part of that assistance, we bring you the following information regarding how the choice of a workers’ comp doctor and your medical records may affect your case. For further legal assistance in this matter, we advise you to reach out to one of our Florence workers’ compensation attorneys to discuss the specifics of your situation and how best to proceed.
Doctor Choice & Medical Records in Workers’ Compensation Cases
Choosing a Doctor for Your Claim
When bringing a workers’ compensation claim, the doctor who is designated to handle your injuries can play a critical role in whether or not you receive the benefits to which you may be entitled. At our firm, we have learned through experience that a doctor’s testimony about your injuries, how they were incurred, and how they have affected your ability to work is crucial. That is why we recommend that you do not let your employer choose the doctor who will treat you without discussing that choice with us. We can generally tell you how a particular doctor will testify about causation and impairment related to your work injury.
For example, we recently handled a case where an orthopedic doctor chosen by the employer’s insurance company testified that he was unaware of any link between repetitive motion and carpal tunnel syndrome and could not give an opinion as to what might have caused our client to sustain this syndrome in both hands. The client’s work history consisted entirely and extensively of repetitive hand motion that is generally known by the medical field to increase the risk for carpal tunnel injury.
Injured workers have the right to demand a panel of four different doctors for treatment in a work-related injury. If the doctor chosen fails to testify truthfully on your behalf as an injured patient, you have the right to demand this panel so that you may choose another doctor. Our firm can assist you with this important factor in your workers’ comp case.
The Importance of Accurate Medical Records
The decisions regarding whether or not to grant workers’ comp benefits to an injured worker often depends on the accuracy of that worker’s medical records. If the records do not reflect that the medical treatment obtained was the result on an on-the-job injury, benefits may be denied. Medical records must show that the work injury preceded the date given for treatment in the records and that the treatment obtained was specifically for the injuries sustained while on the job.
Jurors and judges need to see consistency in medical records. At our firm, we have seen problems with the accuracy of medical record-keeping that can affect our clients’ claims. These problems include mistakes or omissions made by medical personnel during an emergency and the inability of patients to be clear about how an injury occurred when involved in such an emergency.
Additional problems lie in how electronic medical records are created which causes medical personnel to check a given box as opposed to writing down the specifics of how an accident and injury occurred. These records may end up focusing on the major complaint (such as bleeding) leaving secondary complaints unrecorded (such as a shoulder injury). These secondary complaints may then become more persistent or serious than the original complaint. In the above example, you may later need shoulder surgery but because it was omitted in the medical record, you will be unable to obtain the compensation you need to correct this injury.
Thus, if you are injured through an on-the-job accident, you must be certain that your medical records are accurate. If you are in doubt, we recommend that you call McCutcheon & Hamner for legal assistance.
Talk to a Florence workers’ compensation attorney about your injuries and claim today. Call (256) 333-5000 for a free case review.