When you make a compensation claim in Perth it is often the case that the insurance company will arrange for you to see an independent doctor to that they can get an independent assessment on things like your injuries, your recovery, the effect of the injuries on your work, your treatment requirements and your prognosis for a recovery.
Claimant’s often receive a letter from the insurance company or its lawyers telling them about that appointment and saying that if they don’t go that this may affect your claim for compensation.
Claimants then often call and ask things like:
- Do I have to go to the appointment?
- Can I take a support person with me to the appointment?
- Can I record the examination on my phone?
- Can I put a time limit on how long the examination takes?
- Can I refuse any tests that the doctor wants to do?
- Can the doctor take my photograph to identify me to the insurer?
As a general rule if you claim compensation in Perth the law often gives the insurance company a legal right to have you examined by a medical doctor and for the doctor to give them a report. But whether you can put conditions on that examination was recently looked at in the case of Slaughter v Harvey. In that case the claimant sued a doctor for compensation. The insurance company wanted the claimant to go to an appointment with a psychiatrist. The claimant refused to go unless the doctor and the insurance company agreed to a number of his conditions. Given the claimant’s refusal to go the insurance company approached the Court for orders that the claimants compensation claim be suspended until the claimant had seen their doctor. The Court then had to go through each of the claimant’s conditions to see whether they were reasonable or not.
As a general rule the Court was reluctant to interfere with the professional judgment of the examining doctor. The Court placed great weight on the doctor’s professional judgement as to whether the examination could be carried out appropriately given the claimant’s conditions. However the Court was interested in the specific details of the Claimant’s history so that it could assess what was reasonable and what was not. Ultimately Court decided that:
- The Claimant could not take a support person into the examination with him. The Court pretty much said that that was as decision for the doctor and if the doctor didn’t want a support person in the room because that would affect the examination then it would accept that;
- But, it was unreasonable to expect the appointment to last more than 2 hours. That was too long. The Court was happy for the Claimant to insist that the appointment go no longer than 2 hours;
- If the doctor says that he does not want the examination recorded, then the patient cannot record it. This was entirely the doctors professional decision;
- The doctor could not take a photograph of the patient. The doctor said that he needed the photograph to help him to identify the patient while he was writing the report. The Court disagreed and upheld the claimant’s objection.
The lesson is that if you have a workers compensation claim in Perth or a car accident claim in Perth the insurance company will likely arrange for you to go to a medical examination with a doctor that they have chosen. You will probably have to go. It is difficult to put conditions on that examination. It is very unlikely that the doctor will agree that you can film the examination or record it. But if you have concerns you should discuss these with a compensation lawyer in Perth.