33 U.S.C.A. 907 provides that employers are responsible for furnishing medical care to LHW for so long as the nature of the injuries and process of recovery may require. This sounds good for injured workers, but doesn’t always work out that way.
The key to the successful medical outcome for any injured longshore and harbor worker is the quaility of care provided. Sadly, successful recovery is not always an employer’s primary concern. Often, limiting claim costs is the foremost concern. When this is so, the quality of medical care may be compromised.
Under the LHWCA, injured workers are entitled to medical care and, in most cases, some wage loss benefits. The extent of those wage loss benefits is largely determined by the medical opinions given by the treating doctor(s).
Doctors closely aligned with employers and their insurance carriers have a tendency or inclination to give opinions favorable to the employers and carriers. When in doubt, their decisions favor employers and carriers.
Our law firm does not approve of this mentality. We believe that medical providers should act with the patient’s best interest in mind, rather than the employer/carrier’s.
Unfortunately, the LHWCA is not the friendliest system for injured workers. (However, in my view, it is more equitable than Florida’s Workers’ Compensation system.) It does, however, grant injured workers a limited right to choose the attending physician.
The limitations are that the doctor must be chosen from a list authorized by the Secretary of Labor and the initial choice may not be changed without the consent of the employer/carrier or upon a showing of good cause. Another hurdle is that the employer/carrier will often argue that the employee made the initial choice when in fact the choice was made by the e/c. This is a fact issue that will sometimes have to be decided by a judge. The outcome can be critical to an injured workers entitlement to benefits.
The Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Act is full of complex and important issues. The issue discussed in this blog is just one of those issues. We recommend that any seriously injured longshore or harbor worker quickly consult with a lawyer to learn his/her rights under the Act.
Jeffrey P. Gale, P.A. is a South Florida based law firm committed to the judicial system and to representing and obtaining justice for individuals – the poor, the injured, the forgotten, the voiceless, the defenseless and the damned, and to protecting the rights of such people from corporate and government oppression. We do not represent government, corporations or large business interests.
Contact us at 866-785-GALE or by email to learn your legal rights.