The Iowa Court of Appeals Concludes that 85.39 Examinations are Appropriate Even in Denied Claims
April 13, 2012 by Sara A. Lamme
In City of Davenport v. Newcomb, No. 11-1035 (Iowa App. April 11, 2012), where the City had denied Newcomb’s workers’ compensation claim, the Deputy Workers’ Compensation Commissioner denied the employer’s motion to compel the claimant to attend an independent medical evaluation because of such denial. According to the facts of this case, the employer was then left only to obtain a written opinion of a family physician who had not examined the claimant in numerous years. The Deputy found such report unpersuasive when compared to the expert opinions of the specialists who had actually examined the claimant. The claimant was found to be permanently totally disabled.
The Iowa Court of Appeals found that nothing in section 85.39 wholly precludes an independent medical examination in a workers’ compensation claim that has been denied. The court based its decision on Daugherty v. Scandia Coal Co., 219 N.W.65, 67 (Iowa 1928) which found that the purpose of section 85.39 was to allow an employer to determine the extent and character of a claimed injury. Specifically, the court found that if the purpose of an independent medical evaluation is to assist in determining causation, an admission of liability should not be a prerequisite to such an examination. Further, the court found that if the employer were not allowed obtain an examination of a claimant, the employer would be forced to merely obtain a records review which would likely not be given as much weight by the hearing deputy as a report by a physician that had actually examined a claimant. The court found that this would give a claimant an unfair advantage as the employer could not fully and fairly develop and defend the claim.
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