Why the Initial Doctor's Office Visit Can Be Decisive in a Virginia Workers Compensation Case
I have practiced Virginia Workers' Compensation law since 1974. Time and again I have seen the initial doctor's office visit be the decisive factor in a disputed case. This occurs when there is a dispute between the employer and the worker regarding whether an accident happened or what kind of injury was sustained.
The Doctors Notes in a Dispute
If the employer disputes an accident or injury occurred, the Deputy Commissioner hearing the case will often turn to the initial doctor's report or the initial ER report to see what history the doctor wrote down about the accident. This medical visit will often take place the same day or within a few days of the alleged accident. The Deputy Commissioner will review this history to see if the history agrees with worker's report of how he was injured. If it does the Deputy Commissioner will decide in the worker's favor. Conversely, if it doesn't the worker will lose.
Example from a Recent Case
In a recent case I tried, the insurer defended the case stating the worker could not prove a specific accident. The Deputy Commissioner, in deciding for the worker, cited the history on the ER report which said the worker had injured his back lifting a 40 pound crate of gin bottles. The Deputy Commissioner said this history agreed with the worker's testimony.
In summary, the history on the initial medical report can often win or lose the case.