What Not to Say to Your Workers' Comp Doctor

What Not to Say to Your Workers' Comp Doctor

Matthew W. Jackson

Matthew W. Jackson

January 5, 2021 04:01 PM

If you claim workers’ compensation benefits in South Carolina, you will be required to see a doctor approved by your employer to treat your injury or illness. He or she will have a great deal of influence over your claim and benefits. For example, the physician of record on a claim determines when the workers’ comp recipient has recovered enough to return to work.

It is easy to damage your claim if you do not follow the directions of the doctors and attend all follow-up appointments. Many states require workers’ comp recipients to see assigned medical professionals.

Over our 50 plus years of practice in South Carolina, our workers’ compensation attorneys at Joye Law Firm have worked with clients who have made mistakes that have led to reduced benefits and other complications. Below we look at some missteps to avoid when treated by a workers’ comp doctor.

7 Mistakes Not to Make When Dealing with Your Workers' Comp Doctor

If your workers’ comp claim is disputed at any point, you may need to take part in a hearing to prove that you qualify for benefits. Anything you say or do when dealing with doctors should hold up to scrutiny if you, your doctor or anyone else has to testify about it later.

Avoid these mistakes:

1. Waiting to seek treatment.

As soon as you suffer an on-the-job injury or think you have an occupational illness, you should notify your employer and request medical care. This is the first step in filing a workers’ compensation claim. A delay in seeking treatment can raise questions about the seriousness of your injury or how it occurred.

Basic workers’ compensation pays medical bills and a portion of weekly wages for occupational injuries or illnesses that cause a worker to be out of work for seven consecutive days or more. After an accident or medical diagnosis, a worker has 90 days in most cases to request medical care from their employer through the workers’ comp system.

However, by waiting to request a doctor, you may raise a question about the seriousness of your injury or whether it was related to a workplace accident. Waiting to seek treatment for a workplace injury is a mistake.

2. Missing doctor appointments.

Once a workers’ comp physician of record is treating you, you need to follow doctors’ orders to the letter. This means attending all follow-up appointments and physical therapy sessions. Speak to the provider’s administrative personnel about scheduling appointments more conveniently for you if necessary, but do not skip appointments without proper notice.

Skipping medical appointments will be taken to mean that you are not seriously injured.

3. Not describing your accident accurately.

Your doctor will ask how you were hurt. You may be asked multiple times to describe your accident. Stick to the basic facts. If there are things you don’t know or don’t remember, leave them out or say you don’t recall. Don’t guess about facts, and do not exaggerate what happened.

If at some point there are discrepancies in your story, this could be a big problem. There could be witnesses or even security camera video of your accident. You don’t want to give the insurer a chance to raise questions about what happened.

4. Not explaining your medical history.

Doctors should ask whether you have had similar injuries. They need to know to treat you properly, but workers’ comp insurers often use a prior injury or illness to argue that an employee’s condition is not work-related. This causes some patients to hesitate or hedge about prior medical issues, but that’s a mistake.

If the insurer challenges your claim, they will seek your medical records. If there’s anything in your medical history that might affect your claim, then not disclosing it will damage your credibility. Telling the doctor about it upfront ensures that it is considered, accounted for, and out of the way from the start.

5. Not being honest about your pain and work constraints.

During treatment, describe to your doctors and therapists what you are going through. You need to make them aware of how your injury or illness limits your ability to perform your job duties.

Remember, this is someone who regularly sees workers’ comp patients. He or she knows what is required of a valid claim and is recording your complaints and/or recovery progress at each appointment. This is not the time to suffer in silence. You need to be forthright with the healthcare providers about how the work-related injury is affecting you.

6. Ending treatment too soon.

The objective of workers’ compensation is to assist the injured worker financially until they recover and are able to return to work. Most injured workers look forward to returning to work for the income and to get their old lives back. But returning to work too soon can lead to being reinjured. The insurance company that has ended benefits and closed your claim may fight resuming payments. The insurer may argue that you had recovered – you went back to work – and this is a new case that warrants full investigation before any benefits are paid.

Your treating physician must sign off on you having reached maximum medical recovery and being ready to return to work. Don’t push them, regardless of how bored you are with rehab or being at home. If you think your assigned doctor wants you to return to work too soon, you can seek a second opinion. If a second doctor disagrees, you can retain legal help and challenge your release to return to work.

7. Not meeting with a workers’ compensation attorney.

Workers’ compensation is a complex insurance program and there are many ways for deserving workers to be denied benefits they should rightfully receive. A South Carolina workers’ compensation attorney at Joye Law Firm can help you understand your rights and represent you in an appeal if your claim is disputed.

A workers’ comp attorney will meet with you for an initial legal consultation about your claim at no charge. An attorney who represents you can investigate your case to determine all the benefits that are applicable to your workplace injury. If you have been injured and cannot return to work, let an attorney who knows the system deal with workers’ comp while you concentrate on getting well.

Related Articles

Announcing the 2022 Best Lawyers: The Employment Law Issue

by Best Lawyers

Featuring the top legal talent from The Best Lawyers in America, Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch in America and “Lawyer of the Year” recipients for Labor and Employment Law, Workers’ Compensation Law, ERISA Law and Ethics and Professional Responsibility Law.

Best Lawyers Employment Law Publication

Labour's Lost

by Alan S. Pierce

With apologies to the Bard: When it comes to potential COVID-19 exposure on the job, and the attendant workers’-compensation claims, to pay or not to pay? That is the question.

Workers' Compensation For Employees With COVI

One Reason Why Uber Is Fighting to Classify Drivers as Contractors

by Stephen Hasner

How Workers' Compensation Is Setting Up a Legal Battle

 Why Uber Wants Drivers as Contractors

Teamwork and Strategy

by Justin Smulison

In 2018, Block O'Toole & Murphy continued to secure multimillion-dollar results for injured victims and workers.

Block O'Toole & Murphy Gets Results

Pennsylvania Supreme Court Issues Landmark Workers’ Compensation Decision

by Dave Brown

The claimants’ workers’ compensation bar in Pennsylvania scored a significant victory when the state’s high court issued its decision in Protz v. WCAB.

Pennsylvania Workers' Comp

Trending Articles

The Real Camille: An Interview with Johnny Depp’s Lawyer Camille Vasquez

by Rebecca Blackwell

Camille Vasquez, a young lawyer at Brown Rudnick, sat down with Best Lawyers CEO Phillip Greer to talk about her distinguished career, recently being named partner and what comes next for her.

Camille Vasquez in office

Announcing The Best Lawyers in The United Kingdom™ 2023

by Best Lawyers

The results include an elite field of top lawyers and firms from the United Kingdom.

The Best Lawyers in The United Kingdom 2023

Johnny Depp and Amber Heard: The Best Lawyers Honorees Behind the Litigation

by Gregory Sirico

Best Lawyers takes a look at the recognized legal talent representing Johnny Depp and Amber Heard in their ongoing defamation trial.

Lawyers for Johnny Depp and Amber Heard

Announcing The Best Lawyers in France™ 2023

by Best Lawyers

The results include an elite field of top lawyers and firms from France.

Blue, white and red strips

Announcing The Best Lawyers in Germany™ 2023

by Best Lawyers

The results include an elite field of top lawyers and firms from Germany.

Black, red and yellow stripes

Education by Trial: Cultivating Legal Expertise in the Courtroom

by Margo Pierce

The intricacies of complex lawsuits require extensive knowledge of the legal precedent. But they also demand a high level of skill in every discipline needed to succeed at trial, such as analyzing technical reports and deposing expert witnesses.

Cultivating Legal Expertise in the Courtroom

Announcing The Best Lawyers in Belgium™ 2023

by Best Lawyers

The results include an elite field of top lawyers and firms from Belgium.

Black, yellow and red stripes

Announcing the 2022 Best Lawyers® in the United States

by Best Lawyers

The results include an elite field of top lawyers listed in the 28th Edition of The Best Lawyers in America® and in the 2nd Edition of Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch in America for 2022.

2022 Best Lawyers Listings for United States

Announcing the 2022 Best Lawyers™ in France

by Best Lawyers

The results include an elite field of top lawyers and firms, including our inaugural Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch recipients.

Announcing the 2022 Best Lawyers™ in France

Choosing a Title Company: What a Seller Should Expect

by Roy D. Oppenheim

When it comes to choosing a title company, how much power exactly does a seller have?

Choosing the Title Company As Seller

Announcing the 2022 Best Lawyers™ in Germany

by Best Lawyers

The results include an elite field of top lawyers and firms, including our inaugural Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch recipients.

Announcing the 2022 Best Lawyers™ in Germany

We Are Women, We Are Fearless

by Deborah S. Chang and Justin Smulison

Athea Trial Lawyers is a female owned and operated law firm specializing in civil litigation, catastrophic energy, wrongful death and product liability.

Athea Trial Law Female Leadership and Success

U.K. Introduces Revisions to Right-to-Work Scheme and Immigration Rules

by Gregory Sirico

Right-to-Work Scheme and Immigration Rules in

Famous Songs Unprotected by Copyright Could Mean Royalties for Some

by Michael B. Fein

A guide to navigating copyright claims on famous songs.

Can I Sing "Happy Birthday" in Public?

Destiny Fulfilled

by Sara Collin

Was Angela Reddock-Wright destined to become a lawyer? It sure seems that way. Yet her path was circuitous. This accomplished employment attorney, turned mediator, arbitrator and ADR specialist nonpareil discusses her career, the role of attorneys in society, the new world of post-pandemic work and why new Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson represents the future.

Interview with Lawyer Angela Reddock-Wright

What the Courts Say About Recording in the Classroom

by Christina Henagen Peer and Peter Zawadski

Students and parents are increasingly asking to use audio devices to record what's being said in the classroom. But is it legal? A recent ruling offer gives the answer to a question confusing parents and administrators alike.

Is It Legal for Students to Record Teachers?