In Victoria, injury claims may be referred to a medical panel in a variety of situations. These include:
- Assessing injuries sustained by workers in WorkCover claims and addressing disputes about their entitlements to benefits.
- Determining whether or not persons injured in medical negligence and public liability claims meet the threshold for significant injury in common law claims under the Wrongs Act.
The prospect of meeting with one or more medical specialists is often daunting, and the determination of the medical panel can have a significant impact on your ability to obtain full compensation for your injuries. Given the important role a medical panel might play in your claim, it is important to know what to expect.
The team at Henry Carus + Associates has extensive experience handling a wide variety of injury claims and exploring all options for pursuing the compensation our clients deserve – such as seeking a referral of a claim to a medical panel. Contact us today for a free, no-obligation consultation.
What Happens During the Medical Panel Appointment?
The average length of a medical panel appointment is one hour and 15 minutes. You will meet with one or more doctors who specialise in the type of injury or the field of medicine that applies to your claim. On average, two to five doctors will sit on the medical panel.
If possible, you should bring the following to the appointment with the medical panel:
- Copies of your medical records
- Imaging results and reports
- A list of the medications you have been prescribed, including dosage and instructions for use
During your appointment, the doctors on the medical panel may do the following:
- Perform a physical examination
- Review your medical records, including imaging of your injury or injuries
- Ask questions about your injury, including how it affects your day-to-day life, your ability to work, the treatments you have received, and more
- View surveillance film of the accident (if available) and ask you questions about the footage
Generally, you will only need to attend one medical panel appointment. However, you may be asked to attend a second appointment if the panel has additional questions or requires more information before making a determination.
What Happens After I Meet with the Medical Panel?
The role of a medical panel is to answer a medical dispute at issue in your claim. In effect, the medical panel acts as the final word in your claim, with claimants having extremely limited options to appeal the determination in court.
The determination of the medical panel may address:
- Your entitlement to having your WorkCover claim accepted
- Your entitlement to a specific benefit, such as income support
- Your entitlement to a permanent impairment benefit (at times, such will determine your entitlement to a WorkCover serious injury certificate)
- A specific medical issue arising in a request for a WorkCover serious injury application in court
- Your ability to pursue damages for pain and suffering in common law compensation claims, arising in medical negligence and public liability matters
As such, a determination by the medical panel in your favour can make a big difference in the benefits and other compensation you may be able to recover after suffering injury at work, by reason of medical negligence, or in accidents in a public place. At the same time, and sadly, an unfavourable medical panel determination can prevent you from obtaining the compensation you need to recover from your injuries.
Should I Hire a Lawyer Before the Medical Panel?
Referral of your claim to a medical panel is not automatic. In common law and Wrongs Act claims, the referral may be made by the liable party or parties. In workers’ compensation claims, multiple parties – including agents of WorkSafe, the Accident Compensation Conciliation Service, and the courts – may refer the matter to a medical panel in the event of a dispute.
Regardless of the circumstances, it is crucial to contact an injury lawyer well before your claim is referred to a medical panel. Ideally, you should speak to a lawyer even before you file your accident or injury claim.
Although lawyers are not permitted to accompany claimants to the medical panel appointment, your lawyer can assist you with multiple aspects of the claims process both before and after the medical panel. This includes:
- Advising you of the benefits available for your injuries, as well as your right to common law compensation
- Communicating with claims representatives on your behalf, such as agents for WorkSafe and private insurers
- Collecting relevant evidence
- Reviewing your medical records
- Helping you prepare for the medical panel appointments
Injury claims can be complex and take a long time to resolve. It is important to seek qualified legal guidance so you don’t miss the opportunity for compensation that can help you take back your life.
Get Legal Help Before the Medical Panel
Accident victims often find themselves in an uphill battle for the benefits and other compensation they deserve after an injury. In our experience, referral of a claim to a medical panel tends to be a positive development, as it affords an opportunity for your injuries to be assessed by unbiased experts. However, we recognise that preparing for and attending a medical panel appointment can still be intimidating.
The team at Henry Carus + Associates has extensive experience with multiple aspects of WorkCover, transport accident, and Wrongs Act claims, including medical panel referrals. We handle claims on a No Win – No Fee basis. You can rest assured that we will serve your best interest at all times and only charge you a fee if we obtain a positive result on your behalf.
Please call Henry Carus + Associates at 03 9001 1318 today for a free, no-obligation consultation. Our lawyers serve clients in Melbourne and throughout Victoria.