Injured workers are often suspicious of the doctor they're required to see for treatment of a job-related incident. This may be because they're unfamiliar with the medical provider, or because they're worried about saying or doing something that will jeopardize their worker’s comp claim.
As a result, they may not be entirely honest or detailed enough with their answers to the doctor’s questions. This could harm their claims.
As with many things in life, honesty is the best policy when talking to your workers’ comp doctor.
What to Tell Your Doctor
When you're injured on the job or develop a work-related illness, your priority is to get the immediate medical help you need.
Under Ohio law, you're permitted to see any doctor for your initial visit. After that, your continuing care must be with a Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC)-certified doctor if the state program insures your employer; or an employer-approved doctor if your employer is self-insured.
No matter who your first visit is with, it's important to claim success you:
- Fill out the intake form completely and accurately. You may have filled out an incident report at work, but you must still take care to fill out the patient information form completely. Describe every symptom, source of pain, twinge, or bruise—not just the most painful or problematic. It's possible something that doesn't bother you much at first will develop into a severe injury, and your claim will be stronger if your physician documents it on your first visit.
- Give a complete history of the work injury. Often the moment you feel the pain—or the day you're diagnosed with an illness—wasn't when the injury or exposure occurred. When filling out a form or speaking to the doctor, describe everything that happened which may contribute to your injury. For example, you may have fallen off a ladder one day and woke up the next day in extreme pain. The doctor needs to know how and when the fall happened, not just that you woke up in pain.
- Be honest about previous injuries/symptoms. People may experience many back or knee injuries over their work-life. Often, these heal in a few weeks and have nothing to do with subsequent injuries. If you had treatment or injuries before, tell your doctor. If you've been symptom-free for months or years, these prior problems don't undermine your current claim (even though your employer may try to make a big deal of it). Better to be open and honest about these things as past treatment will be discovered. If you hide it, you'll be painted as a liar.
- Don't sign inaccurate or incomplete forms. The medical provider, employer, or managed care organization (MCO) may ask you to sign an initial workers’ compensation claim application (Form FROI-1). Don't sign the form if the details of the accident or injury are incomplete or inaccurate. The FROI-1 can be filed without your signature, and you can correct it later. However, if you signed it, this will be more difficult.
- Never exaggerate or fake symptoms. A doctor can identify the nature and extent of your injuries through examinations and medical testing. He or she will know when you're lying, and this could do irreparable harm to your workers’ comp claim. Always be honest but thorough.
How a Worker’s Comp Attorney Can Help
It’s unfortunate but true that some employers and Managed Care Organizations (MCO) do everything they can to limit the scope of coverage, including taking advantage of your mistakes, omissions, and inaccuracies when reporting injuries.
If you're struggling with an employer or MCO that thinks you're dishonest, contact the Monast Law Office to discuss your situation. For more information about your rights, download my free book, The Worker’s Guide to Injury Compensation in Ohio.