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Workers Herded Like Cattle

Burdine & Brown Nov. 11, 2019

It is saddening and sometimes quite disheartening to see the injured worker “herded like cattle” into the corral of the insurance company panel of doctors after an injury. Georgia is one of the five states where, once a worker is injured, you MUST pick a doctor from a made-up list of insurance company doctors.

Georgia employers and insurance companies are absolutely paranoid about giving the worker the opportunity to obtain medical treatment from a doctor of their choice. Control of the worker is at the heart of the law surrounding the panel of doctors. The doctors have interpreted their involvement with the panel of doctors as their license to depress the quality of medical care, to avoid diagnostic testing and to come up with medical diagnoses that either discourage the worker or cause litigation when the worker rises up in disagreement,

Just last week I read a medical report of a client a new client of mine from an infamous insurance oriented medical orthopedic clinic that purported to show that my client's shoulder problem was totally a pre-existing condition. My client was about to lose his/her disability benefits because the insurance adjuster was using the diagnosis of “pre-existing condition” as a legal excuse to suspend my client's money and medical care.

Fortunately, I recognized another doctor group on the panel of physicians and while the doctor I wanted for my client was not on it, I was able to negotiate with the insurance adjuster for a good quality alternative within that group. After a complete examination by the new doctor, this physician recommended a course of treatment that was appropriate, labeling my client's condition as work-related but still truthfully recognizing an element of an aggravation of a pre-existing condition.

The new doctor has given my client an opportunity to get treatment now (no need to litigate this issue), retain his disability benefits and to have an opportunity to get better and to return to a productive life sooner than later.

The case of this young worker is somewhat unique. He has been re-directed from the awful company doctor on the panel. That happened because he made the right choice by seeking legal advice from someone who knows the doctors, adjusters, insurance lawyers and how this arcane system called workers' compensation works (and in in many cases doesn't work).

Seek advice from those who should know the law and have the experience to navigate you through it.