Certain terms that can be found in medical reports carry significant meaning. If you see the term “malingerer” applied to you, this could be a significant problem for your workers’ compensation claim.
In a work injury claim setting a malingerer may be defined as one who fabricates or exaggerates the symptoms of physical or mental disorders for the purpose of avoiding work, obtaining drugs, remaining on weekly benefits, or increasing settlement value 1. In other words, a malingerer is someone who claims that he/she cannot return to work despite the absence of medical evidence of a continuing disability.
Unfortunately in the adversarial world of workers’ compensation within the state of Georgia, accusations of malingering are tossed about with little to back up these claims. However, if the judge in your case starts to accept this accusation it can leave you exposed to unfavorable rulings regarding termination of benefits, changes in treating physicians and disability ratings.
By contrast, you will want to do everything in our power to portray yourself as an honest but injured claimant who is following doctors’ orders and who is working hard to regain the capacity to work.
Within the workers’ compensation community there are a number of physicians who receive most or all of their business from the insurance companies and these doctors tend to minimize patient complaints and will often try to return injured claimants to work prematurely 2. If a claimant tries to return to work but cannot, the insurance company may try to label him as a malingerer in an effort to cut off benefits.
If you are unrepresented, you run a very real risk of being bullied into a premature return to work and a lowball settlement because of false accusations of malingering and the implications of this accusation.
In my office, I review all medical records carefully and I talk to my clients constantly, often several times a week. I am also aware which physicians in the workers’ compensation system are biased and I will object if the insurance adjuster tries to steer my client to one of these less credible doctors. At the same time, I am very direct and I will tell you if the medical evidence in your case does not support your complaints.
If you sense that the workers’ compensation doctor or your employer is starting to use the malingering accusation strategy to challenge your right recover benefits, please pick up the phone and call me at 770-351-0801 or email me by using the form on this page.
- Wikipedia defines malingering as fabricating or exaggerating the symptoms of mental or physical disorders for a variety of “secondary gain” motives ↩
- To be fair, there are also physicians out there who work primarily with claimants and their lawyers and they often overstate the severity and duration of work injuries. In my opinion, biased doctors usually do not help either side since judges and mediators know who these providers are and give their conclusions little weight. ↩
Attorney Jodi Ginsberg represents employees who are injured on the job and who need medical care and missed wage benefits available under Georgia's workers' compensation laws.
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