An expert opinion by a physician is important to all workers’ compensation cases. Not only does a physician need to determine your permanent disability, he or she must establish causation.
The recent case of Malam v. State of Missouri, Department of Corrections highlights the importance of the doctor’s opinion.
In a workers’ compensation case, medical causation, which is not within common knowledge or experience, must be established by medical evidence showing the relationship between the complained of condition and the asserted cause.
For example, if a worker loses a finger on a dangerous machine, you don’t need an expert opinion on causation-cause and condition are obvious.
In many workers’ compensation cases, cause and condition are not clear cut. This is especially true when there are pre-existing conditions.
I always hire an experienced physician to give an opinion in workers’ compensation cases.
In the Malam case, Mr. Malam, a correctional officer, was injured when he did a “takedown” of an uncooperative inmate. He then experienced a hypertensive crisis.
The employer’s doctor said it was all related to Mr. Malam’s pre-existing medical conditions. The employee’s doctor said the “takedown” was the prevailing, precipitating factor. Since 2005, the injury must be the prevailing factor in causing the medical condition in workers’ compensation cases. The insertion of the word “precipitating” lead the lower court to find the doctor’s opinion was ambiguous. The Supreme Court found the doctor’s opinion was sufficient to allow for compensation.
The appeal and the months of wrangling could have been avoided by having the doctor clarify what he meant.
If you have a workers’ compensation cause and need assistance please call my office, Dean Law Office LLC, 816-753-3100.
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