Workers' Compensation

Can the adjuster really send me halfway across the state to see a different doctor?

Sometimes, and, if they can get away with it. A while back a well-known neurosurgeon based in Raleigh spoke at a closed-door meeting with adjusters at a meeting sponsored by a law firm, which represents mostly insurance companies and employers. During the course of his presentation he stated that he believed a lot of injured workers underwent unnecessary surgeries and ended up being out of work longer than necessary as a result. What happened next? Clients who lived in Mount Airy, in Lexington, even in Charlotte were being sent to him for second opinions.

This happens more often than you would believe. In this particular case we objected to the Industrial Commission. The defense attorney, coincidentally a partner in the firm that sponsored the private meeting, argued that the law regarding second opinions didn’t require that the doctor be fair or neutral. The only limitation was in terms of geographical reasonability. The Industrial Commission seems to have bought into this theory. Your best defenses against a second opinion are that it’s too far away and that the adjuster has already had a couple of second opinions. At some point the adjuster has to concede that she’s only shopping for an opinion that she wants to hear and isn’t really looking for sound medicine anymore. While that seems patently obvious to some people it’s considered bad form to admit to it when you’re at the Industrial Commission.

To be fair, we have our own lists of doctors as well. One advantage of our law firm is that we’ve been keeping records and notes on doctors, adjusters, rehabilitation nurses, etc., for years now. We know which ones tend to unnecessarily favor the employers and insurance companies and we know which ones put their patient’s interests first. So when it’s our turn to pick a doctor we know who we’ll recommend.