When a Work Injury Acts Up Again Years After an Accident
Getting a back injury at work, even one that is not truly incapacitating, means that you might suffer from backaches off and on for years afterward. Why working with your doctors, and perhaps also with physical therapists or chiropractors, you can find effective ways to manage your pain and to reduce the frequency of your backaches. This is annoying but manageable if you have health insurance that covers a variety of treatments and specialists and gives you considerable flexibility as to which providers you visit. If getting your treatment paid for is not a sure thing, then managing recurrent pain resulting from an old back injury can be a financial nightmare. If your injury occurred at work, then getting your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance to pay for your initial round of treatment is quite straightforward, but if the pain comes back or persists after you have reached maximum medical improvement, you could end up in an ugly dispute where your employer tries to evade responsibility for your injuries and their treatment. A South Florida workers’ compensation lawyer can help you resolve disputes with your employer about long-term pain management after a work injury.
Does an Outside Doctor’s Opinion Count in a Workers’ Compensation Case?
In 2000, Eric, an electrician from Miami, suffered a back injury at work. He reported the injury to his employer, who paid for his treatment through workers’ compensation. In 2001, the employer determined that Eric had achieved maximum medical improvement, but he continued to suffer from pain, so the employer referred him to Dr. DeMeo, a pain management specialist, who treated Eric for chronic pain until 2010. In that year, Dr. DeMeo determined that the 2000 work injury was not the main contributing cause of Eric’s pain. To support this claim, the employer showed a surveillance video of Eric doing activities that could worsen his back pain; in other words, the employer accused Eric of fraud.
With workers’ compensation no longer paying for his pain management, Eric visited Dr. Mouhanna in 2011. The story could have ended there, with Eric receiving treatment from Dr. Mouhanna at his own expense. Instead, though, Eric introduced Dr. Mouhanna’s evaluation of Eric’s injuries as evidence in his dispute with his employer. Specifically, Dr. Mouhanna noted that the work injury from 11 years earlier was the major contributing cause of Eric’s pain. What ensued was a dispute over whether statements by outside doctors are relevant to workers’ compensation cases; Dr. Mouhanna was not an independent medical expert appointed by the employer. Eric argued that, because his initial visit to Dr. Mouhanna was for an emergency, the judge of compensation claims should consider the evidence provided by Dr. Mouhanna. The bottom line is that things get very complicated when an injured worker tries to get workers’ compensation insurance to pay for treatment of chronic pain from a long-ago work injury.
Contact Us Today for Help
A Sunrise workers’ compensation lawyer can stand up for your rights if your employer arbitrarily decides that they are no longer responsible for paying for your treatment. Contact the Law Offices of David M. Benenfeld today.