Work Comp Doctor Commits Medical Malpractice

People call and ask this question, Can you sue the company doctor when medical malpractice is committed?

Anybody can sue anyone, but even though you can sue them, you are probably not going to sue the company doctor who commits malpractice in a workers' compensation case. They are insulated with rules that limit the patient's recovery to a measly amount. 

Practically speaking, it is because finding a lawyer who knows what he’s doing, and then is willing to spend the money on experts when all the damages are precluded, makes little sense to honest professionals. Let's look at why.

Here are the rules in medical malpractice cases.

  1. You can’t recover for medical bills if already paid by insurance.
  2. You can’t recover for damages paid for by other insurance.
  3. According to a bill currently making its way through the Iowa legislature, pain & suffering damages will be capped at $250,000.

So why is this a problem for lawyers? First of all there won’t be a line item on the jury form for medical expense, none probably for wage loss, and perhaps none for reduced earning capacity. All that is left is a line item for pain and suffering.

Damages are severely limited and what is allowed is capped.

Lawyers have to advance the litigation expenses. And because experts are expensive clients don’t have the money to advance and lawyers are taking all the risk. We can spend up to $125,000 on hiring medical experts. That $125k is just the money it takes to hire the expert. That amount does not include legal or lawyer fees. So consider this, if all you can recover is pain and suffering damages, damages that are limited to the tune of one-half of what you can recover, then is it really worth the risk? The answer is no.

Let’s do the math.

  • Assume you recover the entire $250,000.
  • Now subtract 40% for a contingent fee.
  • Now subtract $125,000 for expert witnesses.
  • The net is a measly $25,000.

It’s not worth the time or the risk of losing all the litigation expenses we have to spend. This is why the insurance industry, and the industry that supports bad doctors, wanted to limit how much you can get paid for pain & suffering. P&S is where the legal fees are normally paid. They knew it; the Republican legislators knew it and they screwed all the seriously injured patients.

No lawyer in his right mind would take this bet.

Would you? Would you advance $125,000 to maybe make $100,000 and hand your client a measly $25,000? No, that's not fair to the seriously injured patient.

And consider this; to win you have to go through a jury of people you don’t know and one sour apple sinks your chances of winning.

The idea of medical malpractice cases in a workers’ compensation case is a bad one and for that reason alone it is not going to happen.

And so when the company doctor commits malpractice you’re screwed and he gets to drive his Mercedes over for another round of golf. Which is another reason why in a workers' compensation case, the insurance company picking the doctors is so unfair to the injured worker. The patients aka the injured worker takes all the risk. 

Steve Lombardi
Iowa personal injury, workers' compensation, motorcycle, quadriplegic, paraplegic, brain injury, death
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