The Neutral Doctor in California Workers' Compensation Law
The Labor Code and Regulations Allow for Use of Agreed medical Examiners (AME) and Qualified Medical Examiners (QME) as neutrals.
What Is Better for Me - AME or QME?Use of an AME is the preferred way for getting your workers compensation claim resolved, as the critical evidence generally is medical evidence and the opinion of an AME is "entitled to great deference" in California law. Unless the AME report has such serious flaws that it does not qualify as "substantial medical evidence" it will nearly always be followed by a judge. For that reason, once you have obtained a favorable AME report it is likely that your case will settle.
Why Then Does the Law Permit QMEs?The legislature created the QME process in one of its recent revisions of Workers' Compensation law. There are organizations in California that are abusing the QME process by hiring a large stable of barely qualified and unqualified doctors who issue very mediocre reports which tend to favor the employer. A good workers' Compensation lawyer will be able to successfully challenge a poor quality (illogical, incomplete, inaccurate or biased) report so there is no reason to panic.
Why would My Attorney Agree to a QME Who Would Issue a Substandard Report?Your attorney doesn't really get to select the QME. The Department of Industrial Relations (DIR) issues a list pf three names (panel) from which each side gets to strike one name. The name remaining after each side strikes becomes your Panel Qualified Medical Examiner (PQME).