In certain workers’ compensation cases, an Expert Medical Advisor (EMA) may be required. This situation generally arises when there is a disagreement in the opinion of two or more health care providers that have treated a claimant in a case. Pursuant to F.S. 440.13(9)(a), the stated role of an EMA is “to assist the…judges of compensation claims within the advisor’s area of expertise.” For example, a claimant may have treated with an authorized workers compensation physician who opines that the claimant has two herniated discs in her back. The Employer/Carrier may then pay for an Independent Medical Examiner (IME) to separately examine the claimant.
The opinion of an IME is also relevant and taken into consideration along with the authorized treating physician’s opinion in a workers’ compensation claim. Assuming that the IME examines the claimant and states that in his medical opinion the claimant does not have herniated discs in her back, an EMA would be required in order to resolve the discrepancy in the opinions of these physicians to either agree with the authorized physician or the IME.
In the past, the law required the claimant to pay for an EMA, if the claimant requested it. This would deter most claimants from requesting an EMA since it was very expensive (approximately $3,500 $5,000) and would have to be paid out of the claimant’s pocket. However, the law today is more favorable to the claimant as the judge of compensation claims is required to appoint an EMA once a Notice of Conflict is filed at the judge’s office. A Notice of Conflict simply states the facts of the case and gives the judge notice that there is a conflict in the opinion of the health care providers that have been treating the claimant. Pursuant to F.S. 440.13(9)(c), “the judge of compensation claims shall, upon his or her own motion…, order the injured employee to be evaluated by an EMA.” Therefore, the claimant is no longer required to pay for an EMA in such a situation and does not have to bear the expense of bringing in an expert since the judge of compensation claims will be obligated to appoint an EMA on his or her own motion.
So if the situation does arise in your case where there is a conflict of opinion between two of the health care providers that are treating you, an EMA will be appointed by the judge once a Notice of Conflict is filed and you will no longer have to pay any out of pocket expenses to bring one in.
This is why it is important to hire a workers’ compensation attorney who handles these types of situations. If you have this situation or know of someone who does, have them give us a call at (877) 8174127.