All Doctors are not Created Equal—Medical Panel Must Be Qualified by Specialty

Petitioner alleged he was exposed to “high levels of carbon monoxide” due to a carbon monoxide leak from his truck’s engine while he sat in the truck’s cab for approximately four hours waiting for a blizzard to pass. He claimed that as a result of the carbon monoxide exposure, he sustained permanent brain damage, resulting in “headaches, balance, vision & hearing problems, depression, anxiety, [and] problems concentrating.” The Medical Panel ultimately opined that petitioner did not suffer permanent neurological injuries from the carbon monoxide exposure. He was deemed medically stable with regards to his industrial exposure by the time of his discharge from the emergency department on the date of the accident. The work accident caused no permanent impairment, no medical care was currently necessary to treat the work condition, and permanent total disability (PTD) was not established. Petitioner argued that the panelists were not qualified to address his specialized injury.

Ultimately, the Court of Appeals found that the panel did not provide evidence of their qualifications upon which the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) and the Board could rely, therefore the Court of Appeals could not conclude that the panelists were in fact qualified. The Board therefore exceeded its discretion in admitting the Panel’s report over the petitioner’s objections to the panelists’ qualifications.

Claim Handling Tip: Insurance carriers are permitted to have petitioners submit to Independent Medical Examinations and they should be mindful that should the case go to a medical panel, that the physicians are qualified to address the conditions at issue.

Foye v. Labor Commission, 428 P.3d 26 (Utah App 2018)

Would you like to know more? Contact Christin Bechmann at cbechmann@pollartmiller.com or Rachel Konishi at rkonishi@pollartmiller.com or 877-259-5693.

 

From the May 2019 Newsletter 

2019-05-31T14:10:32+00:00