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Workers' Compensation Changes I Dream Of

Burdine & Brown Oct. 25, 2021

As a lawyer representing the injured worker, I see the changes that have been made to the Law and in particular in the workers’ compensation laws.

The trend over the last 20 years has clearly been weighted in favor of the employer and their insurance company friends.

It is no small matter that I dream about changes to the law that will help my clients and their legal claims. I have about ten of these changes that I would like to talk about in the blogs that will follows:

The first one is about the Panel of Doctors. As most of you are aware that when an injured worker has sustained an injury, he/she must obtain medical treatment from a doctor that is listed on the Panel of Doctors, that is hopefully posted on a bulletin board on the premises that must be readily accessible to the injured worker to make a choice.

Those who know me understand that I have litigated over this matter on many occasions. I do not concede that a proper panel of doctors is posted unless we can prove that there is one posted at the time when the injury took place.

One occurrence does take place is when the employer is posting the panel of doctors after my client has been injured. That is illegal. If the employer is to post a panel of doctors they need to have done so before my client’s injury. Proving that the panel of doctors was posted only after my client’s injury can be a difficult proposition because it is difficult to find witnesses that are willing to come forward and testify. But we will try to do so in every instance.

Nevertheless, my dream is that the number of doctors listed on the panel would be increased from the current of 6 doctors or clinics, hospital to 10 doctors, clinics, or hospitals. At this time the panel of doctors is required to contain only one orthopedic doctor.

When I first started practicing law in the late 70’s the panel of physicians consisted of 3 doctors. Can you imagine? Only 3 doctors so the injured worker had a choice only out of 3 doctors. Ten years later, the number of doctors listed on the panel of physicians was increased to 4 and another ten years late, this number was increased to 6 doctors.

Ten doctors would still be easy for the employer to find and post on the panel of physicians. In fact, I believe this number should be increased to 20 doctors. The more doctors listed on the panel the more likely we could find a doctor that is reasonable, fair and balanced in treating injured people.

Having a small number of doctors listed on the panel of physicians generally includes the tried-and-true insurance company doctors who have nothing good to say about anybody, even about their own mothers. There are a number of lawyers that have the same dream that the number of doctors, clinics and hospitals listed on the panel of physicians should be increased to ten. Having a new Chairman of The State Board of Workers’ Compensation we may get a chance to have more doctors added to the panel of physician which will serve the needs of the injured worker better.