Overcoming Challenges to the Competency of Your Medical Expert in Your Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Case
When you pursue a claim for workers’ compensation benefits, your employer will likely oppose your claim aggressively. This may include challenging your testimony as well as the testimony of your medical experts. You should prepare to be ready for the vigorous opposition you will face. A knowledgeable Pennsylvania workers’ compensation attorney can help you strengthen your case and present a persuasive claim.
In your workers’ compensation case, your medical expert may be one of the keys to your success. In the case of Donna, a patient care technician at a hospital in western Pennsylvania, she sustained an injury while she was helping an obese patient to the bathroom. The patient, while attempting to stand to travel to the bathroom, fell. That caused both women to collapse, with Donna hitting a nearby wall. Initially, the injury was thought to be limited to the technician’s left shoulder, where she had suffered a strain.
Donna, however, actually experienced pain in her whole back and left shoulder. Just a week after starting physical therapy, she began noticing problems in her lower back. The technician’s doctor performed x-rays and eventually diagnosed her with nerve inflammation, muscle strain, and a disc protrusion in her lower back.
The workers’ compensation judge concluded that Donna had proved that she had suffered a work-related injury and awarded her benefits. The employer appealed this decision to the board and eventually to the Commonwealth Court. The employer’s argument focused upon the testimony of Donna’s doctor, which, it argued, was factually inaccurate in places. Those inaccuracies proved that her testimony should not have been credited, according to the employer.
The employer first argued that the doctor’s testimony was based upon an inaccurate history received from Donna. The basis for this was the fact that the technician originally reported upper back pain but later noticed lower back pain. These minor differences didn’t matter; the doctor’s understanding of the worker’s workplace accident was not different from the actual facts of the injury in any significant way. Whichever small differences existed did not make the doctor’s testimony about her overall opinions and diagnoses invalid.
Second, the employer focused on a single answer the doctor gave regarding the role of the technician’s physical therapy in Donna’s worsening pain. That one answer, according to the employer, indicated that the doctor believed that the therapy caused the worker’s worsening pain, rather than the injury at work. The court explained that the workers’ compensation judge properly looked at the doctor’s testimony in its totality, and, when taken as a whole, the doctor’s testimony supported the technician’s arguments that she was hurt on the job.
In other words, the judge was entitled to look at the totality of Donna’s doctor’s testimony and credit it accordingly to rule for Donna and award her benefits. Getting the expert evidence you need is just one component of a successful workers’ compensation case. To make sure you have a strong claim, talk to the skilled Pennsylvania workers’ compensation attorneys at Needle Law Firm. Our attorneys have been fighting aggressively for injured workers for many years.
Contact us today for a free, no-obligation consultation by calling 570-344-1266.