The short answer is “No.”
While an injured worker may not always be able to see his or her authorized treating doctor, and many “off work” or disability slips have been issued by physician’s assistants (PA), nurses, and other medical personnel, the Virginia Court of Appeals ruled just last month that a PA’s report is not enough for a permanent injury rating.
The appeals court upheld the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission’s denial and dismissal of a claim for permanent partial disability (“PPD”) benefits. The ruling states that the injured worker did not show the 15% disability rating provided by a physician’s assistant had been reviewed by the claimant’s own treating doctor, or that the rating related only to his compensable knee injury.
In this case, the injured worker chose to have his permanent partial disability (“PPD”) claim litigated and then failed to meet his burden of proof to establish entitlement to PPD benefits. The trial judge in this Virginia Worker’s Workers’ Compensation claim refused to accept the note from the physician’s assistant as evidence of an impairment rating.
It is therefore clear that while physician’s assistants and nurses may distribute disability and “excuse slips,” for permanent disability ratings, a doctor must sign off on the final figures. Otherwise, injured airline or airport workers may find themselves with a valid permanency rating but a losing decision.
It is for the authorized treating doctors to render opinions as to causation, permanency and the need for medical care. Other health care providers can help render care, but cannot render expert opinions that will stand up in a court of law. If you or someone you know has been injured while at work at an airport or aboard an aircraft and there are questions as to what laws apply, email or call the airport injury law firm of Abrams Landau, Ltd. at once (703-796-9555).