Tuesday, February 3, 2015
Special Considerations for Workers’ Compensation Cases in Rural Arizona
The ramifications of receiving medical care in rural communities
By Attorney Brian Weekley, Partner
Snow, Carpio & Weekley, PLC
Snow, Carpio & Weekley handles cases all over the State of Arizona. We have full time offices in Phoenix and Tucson. We also have dedicated office space in Yuma and Flagstaff. We are able to use offices virtually all over the State of Arizona. Because of this statewide presence, we have lots of experience with cases from the state’s smaller communities. there are several peculiarities about these cases that are worth noting.
First, smaller communities do not have the depth or diversity of medical care offered in a larger city. Your town may have an orthopedic surgeon, but it is unlikely that that surgeon will be subspecialty trained in foot and ankle, upper extremity or other subspecialties.
Also, most small town physicians are not fluent in the language of industrial medicine. This is the language that will be applicable throughout the life of your case. Are you stationary? Is there ratable permanent impairment? Do you need supportive medical care? What diagnostic testing is necessary? Is your injury or need for treatment related to your industrial injury? What is the nature of your industrial injury?
In order for you to have as strong a case as possible, your physician must be able to articulate and communicate his or her opinions on these and many other subjects. They must communicate in written reports and also, if necessary, through oral testimony at a hearing at the Industrial Commission of Arizona. This is exactly why IME physicians ( Independent Medical Examiners) have an advantage over local practitioners. They know the questions and answers. They understand what the Judge is looking for. They know how to build a case with medical evidence. They communicate with their defense attorneys. The sum of these efforts is a smoothly presented case…often against the injured worker.
There are many excellent specialists in our larger urban areas who are fair and willing to “ go to bat” for injured workers. They will provide the same level of testimony as their defense counterparts. This gives parity, or levels the playing field, for injured workers.
There are some very good physicians in rural areas of Arizona. However, a stronger case can usually be made if the injured worker is willing to travel to a seasoned veteran of our industrial medical system. In most cases, the worker is able to choose his or her own physician. The exception is if the worker is employed by a self insured employer. In that case, the employer can direct care.
If you or somebody you know has been injured on the job or is disabled, call our toll-free number at 855-325-4781 for a free consultation in either of our 4 offices or over the phone. You may also get more information on our website at www.workinjuryaz.com.