Physician Testimony


Medical questionnaires are a wonderful tool to get a snapshot opinion from an authorized doctor.  They are also cheaper than paying a doctor a witness and records fee (which can exceed $500).  For less than $100 (typically), an E/C can find out MMI, work status, and major contributing cause before it decides it wants to delve into expensive litigation.

It is best to use medical questionnaire after a conference with a doctor to confirm his opinions in the phone call.  If a doctor is advising surgery is necessary, then the E/C knows to raise reserves.  If the litigated issue is major contributing cause and the doctor confirms in the conference and subsequent questionnaire that the compensable accident is the MCC, then at least the E/C can make a decision if it still wants to pursue a possibly futile denial.

But, remember, these questionnaires (usually in the letterhead of a defense counsel) are just tools.  They are not the be all, end all.   If an E/C wants to adopt the questionnaire as its defense, it must follow through with deposing the doctor to confirm his opinions for the record.  These questionnaires are not medical records and therefore are not afforded automatic admission in front of a judge, per s. 440.13(5)(e).

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One key in defending workers’ comp claims is to properly assess your medical evidence.  Without it, you have little chance for success. 

So, it is paramount for claims professionals to understand what an “expert” can testify to and what will be accepted by at Judge.   Because. if they are not a medical expert, the testimony is practically worthless. (more…)

While this is a first impression case, I believe most practitioners believed this to be true.  However, whether the JCC can consider a once authorized physician’s opinion does fall into the proverbial statutory gray area of section 440.13.

The key lesson to take from this ruling is that the Court preserves the Legislature’s desire to prevent “doctor shopping.” (more…)