On February 22, 2019 Freeman Injury Law’s workers compensation attorney, Diana Castrillon presented a “Case Law Update” to the local Bar of attorneys at the 2019 Workers’ Compensation Conference. Only certain attorneys are selected based on skill and experience to carry out this highly anticipated panel presentation. Attorney Castrillon was honored to have been chosen to update a group of their colleagues of the current state of Workers Compensation law in Florida. Ms. Castrillon researched all the latest cases and studied them extensively so that she could educate the local attorneys with regards to any changes in the law.
The cases Ms. Castrillon presented at the Case Law Update involved medical treatment, statute of limitations, pretrial rules, motions to enforce agreements, one-time change in medical providers, payment of temporary disability benefits, payment of advances on compensation, evidence and independent medical examinations.
One important case to recently come out of the 1st District Court of Appeals in Florida, is Myers v. Pasco County School Board, No. 1D17-5457 (Fla. 1st DCA 2018), where an injured worker was seeking a one-time change from her orthopedic surgeon to a new orthopedist. The insurance company provided the injured worker, Myers, with a neur osurgeon instead because that doctor was likely more favorable to the insurance company. Myers attorney filed a claim against the Employer/Carrier arguing that a neurosurgeon is a different medical specialty that an orthopedic and that it was not appropriate to send the injured worker to a different specialty without a referral. At the lower court level, the Judge agreed with the Employer/Carrier and said that the specialty of the physician is close enough that both of these types of doctors can treat similar medical conditions. So the Court said this was substantial compliance with Myer’s request. However, this case was then sent up on appeal and the 1st District Court of Appeals did not agree with the Judge and ordered the Employer/Carrier to provide the injured workers with a new doctor within the same medical specialty as he requested, orthopedics. This case made it clear to the employer and insurance carrier that the rules are being strictly construed and when an injured worker asks for an “orthopedic,” they must be provided with exactly what they request.
In another pivotal case from the 1st District Court of Appeals in Florida, Napoli v. Bureau of State Employee’s W/C Claims, No. 1D18-2437 (Fla. 1st DCA 2018), a severely disabled injured worker had been given a prescription for a specialized hospital bed in his home to assist him with his daily living. Napoli’s attorney filed a Petition for Benefits seeking the bed that was prescribed by Napoli’s doctor. The Employer/Carrier did not want to provide the injured worker with the bed that was being recommended and litigation commenced. After over a year of litigating, the Employer/Carrier came to an agreement with Napoli’s attorney to provide him with “the requested bed.” However, on the agreement they did not indicate all of the particulars about the type of bed that was needed and just wrote “the requested bed.” Several weeks later when the Employer/Carrier delivers the bed to Napoli, it is a different bed than what the doctor had initially prescribed so Napoli’s attorney filed a Motion to Enforce the agreement and force the insurance company to provide the exact bed that was listed on the doctor’s original prescription. However, the Judge denied their motion and said that the agreement was not sufficiently clear – instead of writing “the requested bed” it should have specifically outlined the bed that was requested. This case was then appealed and unfortunately for Napoli, the Employer/Carrier was not required to provide the exact bed that was initially prescribed due to the agreement being ambiguous. The law in Florida says that when a document is ambiguous it has to be read in the light most favorable to the party against who the request is being made. In this case, in the light most favorable to the Employer/Carrier, since they provided a bed that was adequate, even though not exact, the Court could not do anything further because the agreement was not sufficiently clear. The lesson in this case is the important of have clear agreements. Only an experienced Worker’s Compensation attorney can ensure that your needs are being met and everything is done clearly and in writing.
Lastly, in the case of Hernandez v. Hialeah Solid Waste/Sedgwick CMS, 238 So. 3d 418 (Fla. 1st DCA 2018), the injured worker Hernandez was treating with a doctor for some time. During the course of treatment the doctor recommended the claimant to undergo spinal injection treatments. The Employer/Carrier authorized the treatment, but with another physician, not the treating physician. The 1st District Court of Appeals did not allow this to happen. They held that when an attending health care provider makes a medical recommendation, and the Employer/Carrier authorizes that recommendation, then the Employer/Carrier MUST allow the treating physician to perform the prescribed treatment. The only exception to this rule is when the doctor gets de-authorized from the case for some other reason permitted under the law. In this case the doctor was still authorized and therefore the Employer/Carrier was ordered to allow the injured worker to have the necessary spinal injection treatment done by their authorized doctor who recommended it.
Once the presentation concluded, Diana Castrillon was honored by the Broward County Bar Association with an award that read “in recognition of your dedication and commitment over the years to the Workers Compensation Section and Conference.” Ms. Castrillon was presented the award in the presence of over 140 Broward County lawyers and local Judges of Compensation Claims.
Attorney Roman, Attorney Soler, retired Judge Geraldine Hogan, Judge Daniel A Lewis, Judge Iliana Forte, Judge Michael Ring, and our Attorney Diana Castrillon are photographed below.
About Worker’s Compensation Attorney Diana Castrillon
Ms. Castrillon has been a Workers’ Compensation attorney for over 18 years. She began her practice representing the insurance companies, however, for the last 17 years she has only represented injured workers. Her unique experience from having represented the insurance companies will only benefit her injured clients. She takes pride in helping her clients navigate the complicated system of Workers’ Compensation to achieve the best outcome possible. Call us today to speak with Attorney Castrillon about your worker’s compensation case at 1-800-561-7777.