If you have been injured in Georgia, likely at some point you will receive a notice in the mail asking that you show up for what is often labeled a independent medical examination. However the reality is that these examinations are anything but independent or fair for that matter, however you must show if you wish to continue to receive medical benefits and income benefits if applicable.
Here are some things you should not do when you show up for your defense medical examination:
1. Argue or disagree with the doctor or his staff. This may seem fairly obvious however, this is your life they are arbitrarily making decisions and they are not as concerned as you are about their examination. Always remain civil and politely answer any questions that are asked of you with the exception of questions about if you are in litigation or a lawsuit or if you have hired an attorney. Politely let them know you are here to comply with the examination of your medical condition. Politely state that you will be happy to discuss any medical questions they have about your claim but will not discuss topics unrelated to your medical care.
2. Talk too much. Just as arguing with the doctor or his staff and have an adverse affect upon your workers’ compensation claim, so can talking too much. The doctor is going to perform an examination and may or may not have any questions. Answer, the question only, do not get long winded or talk too much, has the only possible thing that can happen is you say something that harms your claim. You have to be at this examination, do what you have to do and no more, the remainder will likely be used against you.
3. Not show up for appointment. By not showing up for your appointment you run the risk of having weekly checks suspended or stopped until you comply with the appointment. Or you may have your medical care suspended if you are not receiving checks. The law requires as long as proper notice is provided you must present to your appointment. Now there are always exceptions to every rule, if you are working on defense medical examination number six, you may want to speak with a workers’ compensation attorney to determine if you have options to fight the repeated unnecessary defense medical evaluations.
4. Ask for medicine. Never ask for medicine or specifically “pain killers”. This doctor is not treating you, merely examining you to make a determination on if they agree or disagree with the medical care or medical status of your injury. Requesting “pain killers” can set off red flags causing them to question if you are a drug seeker regardless of your pain. You should work to get back to your authorized treating physician or an emergency room for medical care. This is for examination purposes only and often the doctors know who is paying them, so be very careful.
5. Ask what they are putting in their records. A written report will be made of your defense medical examination and your attorney should receive a copy. If you are not represented by an attorney, you can ask for a copy. Likely the doctor will not tell you what they are going to put in the report because they do not want to get in an argument with you. It is best to wait for a copy of the actual written report. Sometimes the doctor may volunteer information to you, which may help you understand what they are going to put in the actual report. However keep in mind what a doctor says and what they write can sometimes be different.
6. Embellish or amplify pain or abilities to do tasks. If you embellish or amplify your pain or your ability to bend or move, the doctor will likely know of a test to see if you are in fact faking or exaggerating your symptoms. It is always best to be honest, if you can perform certain tasks and the doctor asks if you can, you should say that you can. Attempting to make your injuries worse than what they are can have a very serious affect on your claim. As a Claimant credibility is your most important factor, if you are caught faking or embellishing your pain, your credibility will be destroyed and the question because what can be believed from you. Don’t go down this path. Be honest.
Being polite, honest and respectful in responding to medical questions you receive in an defense medical examination. Responding appropriately will better help your medical care and your Georgia workers’ compensation claim.