The Consequences of Failing to Give Notice That an Independent Medical Examiner Has Been Selected
Obtaining an independent medical examiner is one of the most important aspects of your workers’ compensation claim. However, another essential factor is ensuring that you comply with the rules outlined in Florida law. Unfortunately, failing to do so can prevent you from being able to obtain workers’ compensation benefits whatsoever.
What Kind of Notice is Required?
In some circumstances, you will be able to select your own independent medical examiner. Regardless of whether you or your employer/insurance carrier chooses a treating doctor for you, you should understand that the party selecting the independent medical examination is required to identify the choice of the independent medical examiner to all other parties within 15 days after the date the independent medical examination is to take place.
What Happens if I Do Not Give Notice That an Independent Medical Examiner Has Been Selected?
The governing statute explicitly dictates that the failure to timely provide such notification “shall” preclude the requesting party from submitting the findings of such independent medical examiner in a proceeding before a Judge of Compensation Claims (JCC). The meaning of “shall” was contemplated in a recent Florida case, which demonstrates the importance of understanding and complying with workers’ compensation requirements, including this one. The First District Court of Appeal recently held in Izaguirre v. Beach Walk Resort that the requirement for a party to give notice of selection of an independent medical examiner is mandatory, and a judge has no discretion to admit the report if proper notice has not been given.
The worker in that case appealed her claim disposition of being denied benefits after the JCC struck the worker’s independent medical examiner report. She admittedly did not provide timely notice, but she argued that the exclusion of the evidence under this provision was merely directory and not mandatory. The Court analyzed the plain and ordinary meaning of the statutory language in rejecting the worker’s characterization of the exclusionary language as merely directory, and instead agreed with the JCC that it was mandatory. Based on this conclusion, the worker’s claim remained denied.
Is There Anything Else I Should Understand About My Independent Medical Examination?
Yes. Importantly, you should understand that even if you are able to select your own doctor as a part of the workers’ compensation medical care you are entitled to, your doctor works for the workers’ compensation insurance company – not for you. This means that the recommendations of the doctor may reflect the company’s best interests over yours and you will have to be your own advocate to ensure that your doctor provides you with appropriate treatment and does not clear you to return to work too soon.
Are You Struggling to Understand the Workers’ Compensation Process?
The best way to ensure that you comply with all deadlines and legal requirements for both your independent medical examination and your workers’ compensation claim in general is to obtain competent legal help as early as possible. The Miami workers’ compensation attorneys at Payer & Associates have significant experience helping injured workers in similar situations and can help make things clear for you. Begin by contacting us today.