Florida Appeals Court Overturns Order Compelling Medical Exam in Workers’ Compensation Case

In Jackson v. Columbia Pictures, a Florida man suffered a traumatic brain injury in 1986 when he fell more than 20 feet at work. Two years later, the brain-damaged worker reached “maximum medical improvement.” Eventually, the hurt man received a workers’ compensation award that included any attendant care benefits that were medically necessary. During the intervening years, the brain-damaged man was incarcerated on two separate occasions.

In 2008, a Judge of Compensation Claims (“JCC”) determined that the injured man required care around the clock during his incarceration. As a result, the JCC entered an order for the amount of services “actually rendered” to the worker. Two years later, the injured man filed a petition seeking payment for the costs associated with the 24-hour attendant care he received while he was in prison.

In 2014, the man’s former employer sought to compel the brain-damaged man to submit to an independent medical examination (“IME”). The employer also requested that the injured man be ordered to seek medical care from an authorized treating physician. The injured worker argued that the employer’s request should be denied, since his pending workers’ compensation claim was for past attendant care. According to the man, he could not be forced to submit to a medical examination because he did not have a claim for current or future medical benefits pending before the JCC.

The man’s former employer argued that the injured worker’s medical issues were in dispute and claimed that the hurt man was medically noncompliant. Since the worker’s past attendant care expenses were at issue, and he refused to submit to a medical evaluation, the JCC granted the employer’s request for an IME as well as its motion to compel care. According to the JCC, the order was required in order to allow the employer to investigate its legal duty to the injured worker under the Florida workers’ compensation statute. In response, the brain-damaged man filed an appeal with Florida’s First District.

After reviewing the facts of the case, the appellate court stated the man successfully demonstrated the JCC’s order would cause him to suffer irreparable harm that could not be undone on appeal. The appeals court also found that the JCC departed from the essential elements of Florida law. According to the court, no section of the Florida workers’ compensation statute allows an employer to force an injured employee to submit to medical care against his or her wishes. In addition, the court said the requested medical examination was not related to the issue that was pending before the JCC. Finally, the First District Court of Appeal of Florida granted the injured worker’s request and quashed the JCC’s order compelling him to submit to medical care.

If you were seriously hurt in a workplace accident, you need a seasoned attorney on your side who can help you protect your rights. The experienced workers’ compensation lawyers at Friedman, Rodman & Frank, P.A. may be able to assist you with your case.  To discuss your rights with a caring attorney today, do not hesitate to call Friedman, Rodman & Frank, P.A. at (305) 448-8585 or contact us through our website.

Additional Resources:

Jackson v. Columbia Pictures, Fla: Dist. Court of Appeals, 1st Dist. 2014

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Appeals Court Says Video Deposition Evidence May be Used During Closing Argument in Florida, January 5, 2015, South Florida Personal Injury Lawyers Blog

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