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Workers' Compensation

Utah: Injured Worker’s Tort Action Against IME Physician Properly Dismissed

There is no physician-patient relationship between an independent medical examiner and a workers’ compensation claimant, held a Utah appellate court. In the absence of such a relationship, the physician did not owe the claimant the sort of duty owed by his or own treating physician and a state trial court appropriately dismissed a civil action filed by a claimant against the IME physician where the former contended the physician’s faulty opinions had resulted in delays in adjudicating the claimant’s underlying workers’ compensation case. The appellate court stressed that, during the IME, the doctor informed claimant that the two were not establishing a doctor/patient relationship. And even if this express disclaimer were insufficient, the facts provided further support. The claimant had sought the IME physician’s assistance. Moreover, even if the doctor’s opinion resulted in a delay in the workers’ compensation proceedings, the physician could not be held liable. To do so would have a chilling effect on IME examinations, a result that would run counter to the public policy established by the Workers’ Compensation Act.

Thomas A. Robinson, J.D., the co-Editor-in-Chief and Feature National Columnist for the LexisNexis Workers’ Compensation eNewsletter, is co-author of Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law(LexisNexis).

LexisNexis Online Subscribers: Citations below link to Lexis Advance.

See Kirk v. Mark Anderson, M.D., 2021 UT 41, 2021 Utah LEXIS 97 (Aug. 5, 2021)

See generally Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law, § 112.02.

Source: Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law, the nation’s leading authority on workers’ compensation law

For a more detailed discussion of the case, see

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