When you get injured while working, to win a case you have to be able to prove that your injuries and need for treatment are related to the job accident.

In some cases this is straight forward. For example, if you get hit by a forklift at work and break your leg, it’s pretty obvious what the cause of your injury is.

In other cases, a diagnostic exam is the way of proving (or disproving) what your injury is and if it got worse by a job accident or something else. While x-rays are the most common diagnostic test, MRI’s are usually the best way to show an injury.

I thought of this when a potential client came to us with a shoulder injury. He treated for four months, but put all of his medical bills through his own insurance because he didn’t know what work comp is. His doctor ordered a MRI to see what was wrong with the shoulder, but that test never happened.

Right before he came to us, he popped his shoulder while lifting one of his kids and went to the doctor and told him that happened. The doctor’s response was that it was still important to get a MRI.

While the doctor’s advice is correct, there’s now a huge problem with the work comp case. Because he didn’t have a MRI before the lifting at home incident, when he does get a MRI it could be difficult if not impossible to prove what damage was caused by the job and what wasn’t. This will make it unlikely that we will be able to secure medical care for him.

On the flip side, we’ve been involved in a lot of cases where someone had a prior back problem and a MRI showed bulging discs. They then got hurt at work and a new MRI showed that either the discs were hurt much more severely or that they were now bulging or herniated at levels that didn’t show up on the old MRI. In other words, comparing the new MRI vs. the old MRI made it a slam dunk case.

And while MRI’s aren’t everything and at times can fail to show a problem, they are a real valuable and trusted tool in medicine. If your doctor recommends that you get one, you should. They aren’t cheap and it’s not unusual for the work comp insurance to balk at paying for it. If they do, they usually are doing so without good reason. Give us a call and we can almost always solve that problem rather quickly. It’s really important for determining the next steps your doctor will take and in some cases can identify problems that are real emergencies.