There is an infamous doctor in the Chicago area who does not believe that most job duties, including typing, can cause carpal tunnel syndrome. If a client calls me who is a secretary or in another job that types all day and I know that they are being sent to this doctor by an insurance company for an independent medical examination (“IME”) then I know the case will be denied and a trial will be necessary. That’s OK, it’s one of the reasons you get an attorney.
The good news with this doctor is that almost every Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission Arbitrator knows he says the same thing on every case and is essentially a professional witness. As a result, he’s being used less and less these days because insurance companies know that in the end he really doesn’t help their case. All that said, I don’t know if he really believes what he’s saying or if he knows that he can make a ton of money being a hired gun, but he does still create obstacles for legitimately injured workers.
The problem is that there are other doctors in other specialties who are just as biased in their opinions but not as well known. I was talking to a defense attorney recently about a PTSD case from a man who was robbed at gun point. His firm uses the same psychologist to defend those cases because allegedly he doesn’t believe that having a gun pointed at your head while working can actually cause post traumatic stress disorder. The lawyer I know bragged about how cheap the doctor is and how well he testifies.
This is a common thing we hear in all areas of law. Some doctors will testify that most back injuries are degenerative or that MRI’s can’t be trusted. There are plenty of doctors who will gladly help insurance companies fight a repetitive trauma claim. If you are pregnant, overweight or have diabetes and then get carpal tunnel, that will be used to state that your job couldn’t have had anything to do with your problem.
As lawyers, all we care about is the truth. If a client really wasn’t hurt on the job, I don’t want to represent them. But many of these doctors will say whatever needs to be said without thinking about how their actions have real life consequences for good, hard working people.
So if you have to go to an IME we have lots of advice for you and have blogged about it. You are welcome to call us with any questions and tips on what to do and not do at the exam. But do know that if the IME doctor finds that you aren’t really hurt or your job didn’t cause your problems, your work comp benefits can and will be taken away. But they aren’t gone forever. Your attorney just needs to gather your medical records, take a deposition of your doctor and the IME doctor (if needed) and go to trial. Having a case on file already speeds up the process for you and gets you before a Judge sooner.
This post was a bit of a rant, but it drives me nuts how dishonest some medical practitioners can be. If 99 doctors agree that carpal tunnel can be aggravated by typing, the one doctor willing to look the other way shouldn’t be able to blow up a case.