Medical Evidence is Critical in Your D.C. Workers Comp Case
That is the number one thing your workers comp adjuster considers and at a formal hearing of your case, usually the most important evidence - certainly on the extent of your injuries and whether you can return to work, have limitations or restrictions or need more medical treatment.
I tell every one that your treating doctor is the key - and that's why it's so important to choose your own physician after an injury on the job in D.C. - don't let the insurance adjuster, nurse, case manager do this for you (we see this a lot with Travelers or Hartford, so if one of these are your workers comp insurance company, call us).
The insurance company wants you to see one of their doctors, usually a doctor who gets tons of referrals from them, does their insurance medical exams (IMEs) over and over. Who do you think that doctor is beholden to? Well, it ain't you.
And you have to let your doctor know all of the physical things you do at work - you have to tell him the specifics (we formulate a job analysis and description for our clients - so their doctor knows exactly what they do at work). Remember, your doctor has about 15 minutes with you and hundreds of other patients. He may have done two surgeries this morning and be thinking about the 3 surgeries he needs to do tomorrow. He won't remember or be focused on the specifics of your work activities.
Here's an example. We represent a plumber working out of Local 5 with serious career ending injuries after a fall. He just had a cervical discectomy and fusion because of herniated discs caused by the fall. His doctor is a top neurosurgeon, in the operating room all the time.
If our client just told his doctor he was a plumber, the doctor may think, "OK, I had a plumber at my house last week because the toilet was running. The plumber put in a new flap that weighed less than a pound. So that's not a real physical job."
Instead a plumber out of Local 5 is in heavy duty construction, lifting and carrying pipes, supplies and tools weighing over 100 pounds, working overhead, at heights, etc. - a totally different job than the guy who came to the neurosurgeon's house.
The reports the doctor writes and his opinion on whether you can go back to work or have limitations or restrictions should reflect what you really do for a living.
Need more proof that medical evidence is critical to a successful D.C. workers comp case? Here's a quote from the D.C. Compensation Review Board (that's the appellate level cases are appealed to after a Compensation Order is issued) discussing how hard it is to prove your case without solid medical evidence supporting your injury being related to work or the extent of the injury:
"The importance of medical evidence in workers compensation litigation cannot be overstated. As we have said, such evidence may make adjudication of disputed claims easier, and the lack of such a restriction certainly can, in some instances, be a legitimate basis for denying a claim."
The case is Knox v. WMATA decided on August 29, 2019.
If you've had a serious work injury, call us at 202-393-3320 to at least talk it over. We don't advertise and we're not some big law firm where you get passed around and they never get back to you, but we do offer a lot of information and education - and we have the only lawyer in D.C. who literally wrote the book on D.C. workers comp, so call us and we can send you a copy!