WorkCover are within their rights to ask you to attend an independent medical examination in relation to your workers’ compensation claim (as required by s.135 of the Workers’ Compensation and Rehabilitation Act 20023 (Qld)). The medical examination may be for any one of the following purposes:
- To ascertain what injuries you have suffered;
- To determine whether your employment was a significant contributing factor to your injuries;
- To decide if any recommended treatment is necessary and reasonable;
- To ascertain whether your ongoing symptoms are being caused by a pre-existing injury or age related degeneration;
- To determine whether your work related injury has ceased;
- To decide whether your work related injuries are stable and stationary; and/or
- To assess the degree of permanent impairment that you are suffering as a result of your work related injuries.
The workers’ compensation insurer’s request for you to undertake an independent medical examination must be in writing. Pursuant to section 106 of the Workers’ Compensation and Rehabilitation Regulation 2014 (Qld), the request must state:
- the name of the doctor or other registered person (e.g. Occupational Physician) who has been engaged to undertake the examination; and
- if the doctor is a specialist – the field of specialty; and
- the day, time and place for the examination.
There is no requirement in the Workers’ Compensation and Rehabilitation Act 20023 (Qld) for WorkCover Queensland or any workers’ compensation insurer to provide you with a minimum amount of notice with respect to the appointment time. WorkCover is, however, required to act reasonably. They need to give you a reasonable amount of time to make appropriate arrangements to enable you to attend the appointment.
The medical assessment also needs to be at a place reasonably convenient to you. The caselaw states that requiring a worker to travel from, for example, the Gold Coast to Brisbane to attend an independent medical examination is not unreasonable.
You are able to refuse to attend the medical examination if you have a reasonable excuse. What amounts to a reasonable excuse varies in every case.
It is important to note that WorkCover can suspend payment of your benefits if you:
- Fail, without reasonable excuse, to attend the medical examination at the time and place advised by the insurer; or
- having attended, refuse to be examined by the registered person; or
- obstruct or attempt to obstruct, the examination.
Pursuant to section 219 of the Workers’ Compensation and Rehabilitation Act 20023 (Qld) WorkCover is obliged to pay your necessary and reasonable travelling expenses incurred in attending the independent medical examination.