Nebraska considers rule change to allow P.A. reports in workers compensation cases

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On Thursday, the Nebraska Workers’ Compensation Court is considering amending NWCC Rule 10 to allow physician assistants or (P.A.), nurse practitioners and neuropsychologists to testify by written report.

The proposed rule change appears to have come in response to the recent Bower v. Eaton  decision where the Nebraska Supreme Court held that P.A.s could not testify by written report in the Nebraska Workers’ Compensation Court.

I wrote in October that I believe the Bower decision harms workers in rural areas whose only access to medical care is often a P.A. The decision also harms workers without health insurance whose only treatment for a work injury might be treating with a P.A. at an urgent care clinic. If an employer denies compensability, the only medical evidence that employee may have would be a report from a P.A.

Most lawyers “fix” P.A. reports by having the supervising doctor sign the report. I’ve had P.A.s take offense at that request. I’ve also had defense lawyers attack medical opinions on hearsay grounds by getting a medical doctor to admit that the P.A. is the one with first-hand knowledge about the injured worker.

Under the Bower decision, lawyers are stuck with two options if a P.A report is the sole source of expert opinion from a treating provider: 1) Call the P.A. live as a witness in the same manner as in a civil trial or 2) retain an examiner.

The prohibition of P.A. testimony by written report can also complicate litigation for employers. Often surgeons will have P.A.s do post-surgical follow up visits. In many instances the P.A. will issue return to work notes for light or alternate duty. But since a P.A. isn’t a recognized expert under NWCC Rule 10, there would be some question over whether a P.A. had the right to issue return to work notes. This could weaken an employer’s case that they were accommodating a work injury.

The offices of Rehm, Bennett & Moore, which also sponsors the Trucker Lawyers website, are located in Lincoln and Omaha, Nebraska. Five attorneys represent plaintiffs in workers’ compensation, personal injury, employment and Social Security disability claims. The firm’s lawyers have combined experience of more than 95 years of practice representing injured workers and truck drivers in Nebraska, Iowa and other states with Nebraska and Iowa jurisdiction. The lawyers regularly represent hurt truck drivers and often sue Crete Carrier Corporation, K&B Trucking, Werner Enterprises, UPS, and FedEx. Lawyers in the firm hold licenses in Nebraska and Iowa and are active in groups such as the College of Workers’ Compensation Lawyers, Workers' Injury Law & Advocacy Group (WILG), American Association for Justice (AAJ), the Nebraska Association of Trial Attorneys (NATA), and the American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA). We have the knowledge, experience and toughness to win rightful compensation for people who have been injured or mistreated.

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One thought on “Nebraska considers rule change to allow P.A. reports in workers compensation cases

  1. Pingback: Nebraska work comp court rejects rule change on P.A. reports - Workers' Compensation Watch

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