Georgia Workers’ Compensation and Independent Medical Examinations

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Georgia Workers’ Compensation and Independent Medical Examinations

If you have been injured on the job and are considering filing a Georgia workers’ compensation claim, there are a few key considerations that you need to be aware of to ensure that you receive an accurate and fair medical evaluation and diagnosis for your resulting personal injuries. Whether you happen to be presenting to your own physician or a doctor designated by your job’s workers’ compensation insurance provider, taking an active role in your related medical treatment will be indispensable to the success of your workers’ compensation claim.

After being in a workplace accident, you are most likely exhausted and utterly exasperated by your work related injuries. Understandably, your focus is probably more directed toward healing and restoring yourself to your pre-injury mental and physical state rather than assessing the most prudent legal strategy for quickly and efficiently acquiring your well-deserved workers’ compensation benefits.

At the end of the day, recovering and restoring your health and overall well-being is exactly where your focus should be at this trying time. The good news is that you don’t have to do this alone. There are professional workers’ compensation lawyers out there who are able to help you file a claim. The knowledgeable workers’ compensation attorneys at the Law Office of John B. Jackson in Douglasville, Georgia have made it their goal to remove this heavy burden from the shoulders of injured workers. Reach out to a skilled workers’ compensation lawyer today to take the first step toward seeking the compensation you deserve.

Key Considerations When Seeking Medical Attention for Georgia Workers’ Compensation

It is likely that the first time you seek medical attention for your personal injuries sustained on the job, you will go to your own primary care physician. Alternatively, depending on the severity and emergent nature of your injuries, your first medical evaluation may be from a doctor at the closest medical facility to your place of employment. Either way, ensuring that you receive your workers’ compensation benefits will require that you are open and honest with this initial treatment provider. 

Workers' Compensation Attorney Douglasville, Georgia
Hurt on the job? Reach out to John B. Jackson to discuss your workers’ compensation claim.

It’s human nature to sometimes downplay our injuries and weaknesses. After all, it is often very difficult to admit to oneself, let alone a third party, the true severity of your physical symptoms shortly after sustaining a serious injury. Downplaying the resulting symptoms or simply being unable to fully recognize these physical symptoms in the face of shock is a common occurrence. This all too common result is further intensified by an innate fear that being completely honest about your job-related accident or injuries may result in an adverse employment action by your employer.

This fear is completely legitimate. Most individuals rely on their jobs to provide for themselves and their families. The reality of today is that we live in an economy where finding alternative employment is more difficult than ever before. As such, many workers who have been injured on the job would rather deal with the debilitating, physical symptoms in silence rather than disclose these symptoms to a medical professional and risk adverse employment action.

Unfortunately, the affirmation that such behavior from employers is illegal often provides little relief to the workers who fully rely upon a weekly paycheck to put food on the table. After all, the law can sometimes seem unfair. Those terrifying and nagging “what ifs”  that underlie a workers’ compensation claim are difficult, if not utterly impossible, to silence.

Nevertheless, your well-being and your livelihood can best be protected by full and honest disclosure with your any and all medical providers that you seek treatment from following an injury sustained while on the job. Saying things like “it’s not so bad” in reference to your injuries could be used against you should you choose to file a workers’ compensation claim at a later date.

Tips for Georgia Independent Medical Examinations

Ensuring that you abide by the following guidelines can ensure that you receive the workers’ compensation benefits that you are entitled to under Georgia law:

Do not pick and choose which details surrounding your job related-accident to share with your initial healthcare provider

If you provide your initial healthcare provider with your account of the facts and circumstances surrounding your work-related injury, do not leave out key details to “protect” your employer from liability in order to avoid being fired or demoted as retaliation. The truth is, liability is largely irrelevant in a workers’ compensation claim. Intentionally leaving out key details surrounding your job-related accident may result in inconsistencies and provide defense counsel with the ammunition to discredit you and ultimately call into question whether your alleged injury was actually a result of the accident. This could greatly undermine your workers’ compensation claim and keep you from receiving benefits.

Inform your doctor of all your resulting physical symptoms

Some injuries take longer to manifest than others. For instance, back and neck injuries often become worse over time. While your initial complaint after falling off a forklift may be a painful laceration to your head, that secondary, less prominent back and neck pain may be indicative of a serious injury that will only become worse over time. If you completely fail to mention these symptoms to your doctor, however insignificant they may seem at the time, this may prevent you from receiving approval for the treatment that you will very much require down the line when your symptoms intensify.  

Do NOT downplay any of your symptoms

If you are in tremendous pain, you need to say so. If you would rate your lower back pain at a 9 out of 10, express this clearly to your medical provider. While the beautiful tendency of many hard workers to “work through the pain” is unbelievably admirable, self-diagnosing  and ignoring very real physical pain will only make matters worse for the purposes of your workers’ compensation claim. If it hurts, say so. Do not downplay the very real symptoms that you may experience following a work-related accident. 

Independent Medical Examination for Georgia Workers’ Compensation

If you think that your battle is over following your initial presentation with a doctor following an injury sustained on the job, you are mistaken. When you make a claim for workers’ compensation benefits, you will be required to undergo an independent medical examination, otherwise known as an “IME”. What this means is that the applicable workers’ compensation insurance company can send you to one of their own specially elected panels of doctors to evaluate your alleged injuries and provide their own opinions and recommendations. 

If your first thought is, “This isn’t fair” or “That seems biased”, you are completely accurate. Admittedly, it often is biased. After all, like most services, the physicians conducting Independent Medical Examinations are little more than a business with a financial incentive. The natural and unavoidable result is that the “assessment” of your injuries will more likely than not be slanted in favor of the individual paying the bill for this IME. That is, if it is at all possible, the doctor that you present to for your required IME will look for whatever available avenue to discredit the cause and extent of your alleged injuries sustained on the job.

Seek Legal Counsel from a Georgia Workers’ Compensation Attorney

The best way to protect yourself when filing a workers’ compensation claim is to be open and honest with any and all healthcare providers tasked with evaluating and diagnosing your work-related injuries. After your workplace accident, your first step should be reaching out to a legal representative who is familiar with Georgia workers’ compensation laws. You do not need to face this alone. Contact the Law Office of John B. Jackson to discuss the details of your workers’ compensation case.

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