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Indiana Worker’s Compensation Claimants (Injured Workers) Often Get Inaccurate & Unreliable Information About Their Legal Rights

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Indiana worker's compensation claimsDuring the life of a worker’s compensation claim injured workers are exposed to many people.  It can be overwhelming when claimants don’t know whom they can trust and whom they cannot.  The truth is that the vast majority of these people are compensated by the insurance company, in one way or another, and they often provide the injured worker, either intentionally or unintentionally, with inaccurate information.  Many times, claimants rely on this information and end up missing out on benefits that they should receive.  It is important for workers to understand that, in Indiana, a worker’s compensation claim is part of an adversarial system.  The insurance company tries hard to wind-up with a result that is best for them, and the claimants must do the same.  The problem is that worker’s comp claimants are rarely as knowledgeable about what they should receive as the adjusters are.  This creates an unfair playing field. 

Regardless of how friendly or helpful an insurance adjuster or nurse case manager may seem on a particular claim, it is important for injured workers to understand that the “other side” has no legal or ethical obligation to tell them how to maximize their rightful benefits.  It is up to injured workers to learn this on their own (which is often times unrealistic), or to hire an Indiana worker’s compensation lawyer to level the playing field.

Even after claimants hire a knowledgeable work injury attorney, they are still often given “bad information” from nurse case managers and even sometimes from the treating doctors themselves.  The best course of action for injured employees is to take this “information” with a grain of salt and to discuss it with their attorney before considering it to be reliable.

Who Picks the Doctor in an Indiana Worker’s Compensation Claim?

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Indiana worker's compensation doctor selectionInjured workers in Indiana are often confused by the question of “who gets to choose the doctor?”  The answer varies depending on the specific situation, but the general rule is that the employer (or more likely, the worker’s compensation insurance company) gets to select the medical providers.  This creates a large advantage for the insurance companies and a significant disadvantage for Indiana workers. 

The reality is that relationships often develop between worker’s compensation insurance companies and the medical providers they choose.  The adjusters have the ability to learn which doctors prescribe inexpensive treatment options (rather than more elaborate and costly treatment options), and which doctors give lower PPI ratings (which is one of the factors considered when evaluating settlement value).  It is not surprising that the more “conservative” doctors end up getting a lot of repeat business and the more “patient-friendly” doctors get a lot less. 

This dynamic can be particularly troubling when it comes to an injured worker’s “pain management”.  Because this area of medicine involves not only science, but also a degree of art, different doctors use different approaches to it.  While certain medical providers are open to using many different tools (such as injections, TENS units, spinal cord stimulators, and a variety of medications), other doctors have preconceived philosophies against some of these types of treatments, and simply won’t ever recommend them.  This can leave injured workers wondering whether they are truly getting the best care possible or whether they are getting quickly pushed through a low-cost course of treatment.

The good news is that, in certain circumstances, injured workers can acquire, free of charge, an independent medical exam (IME) from a doctor chosen by the Worker’s Compensation Board (rather than one chosen by the insurance company) to challenge the findings of the insurance company’s doctor.  Additionally, injured workers always have the right to seek a second opinion from a doctor of their choosing.  Although this may cost claimants some money, a second opinion from a patient-friendly doctor can be a valuable tool to challenge the findings of the insurance company’s doctor.

For more answers to worker's comp questions, check out our Indiana worker's comp FAQs.

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