Can the insurance company and their lawyer talk to my work injury doctor whenever they want ?

In a word, according to Herndon Reston workers comp lawyer Doug Landau, “NO.” Insurance company agents, especially their defense lawyers and so-called “nurses” and “medical case managers” routinely try to go behind our backs and talk to the doctors without the patient or their lawyer’s being present. This is called an “ex parte” contact, and it is a dishonest and cowardly practice.  ABRAMS LANDAU clients with traumatic brain injuries, occupational diseases, fatal conditions and facing surgical decisions have all seen these “nurses” try to insert themselves into the case and interrupt their relationship with their trusted physicians, therapists and family doctors. I have seen defense lawyers from major law firms go visit our client’s treating doctor and represent that THEY were the claimant’s physician ! While the insurance company, the defense lawyers and the third party administrators are allowed to look at medical records when a workers compensation claim is made, there is no law that saws they are allowed to breach the “physician-patient relationship” and talk to the doctors any time they want and outside of the presence of the patient, their family and their counsel.

The Virginia job accident case of Carter v. City of Falls Church Public Utility, V.W.C. File #130-05-07 (1990) gives guidance. My friend and former Alexandria workers compensation trial judge and later Commissioner William O’Neil ruled on this very issue. Commissioner O’Neill held that the employer and insurance company have no enforceable right to oral communication with a physician. It appears to still be good law 20 years after it was written ! The Virginia Workers Compensation Commissioner wrote:

  • “Oral communication between a party or servicing agent and a physician is not conducive to insuring a dependable exchange of medical information between the parties as required by [then] Rule 17 [now Rule 4.2]. The Commission will not enforce a right to oral communication with a physician except through an authorized deposition. To do otherwise would result in “ex parte” communications which may never be reduced to writing and which would result in innumerable controversies and encourage circumstances which would not be conducive to productive interaction between physicians and their patients.”

If you or someone you know has been injured in an accident at work, and the insurance company is interfering with their medical care or doctors’ appointments, e-mail or call us at ABRAMS LANDAU, Ltd. (703-796-9555) at once, as it is very hard to undo the damage caused by this dishonest and cowardly practice.

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