A Changed Focus with Medico-legal Consulting
Hobart Occupational Medicine offers a range of assessment services to assist with determining diagnosis, causation, work capacity and impairment and/or to provide recommendations about future management for musculoskeletal injuries, pain disorders and a range of occupational diseases affecting workers. These assessments are conducted as independent practitioners i.e. we have no role in provision of treatment or ongoing management and are independent from the practitioners providing treatment.
Our emphasis is on activities that encourage communication, co-operation and support to facilitate recovery for injured workers to reduce the requirement for adversarial legal processes. On that basis, we give priority to the availability of our expertise to assist workers, their doctors, employers and insurers avoid disputes, reduce the need for legal involvement and increase the scope for consensus management. We aim to reduce cost barriers to dispute resolution and provide relevant services at reduced rates compared to our rates for standard IME assessments to encourage their use.
“Jointly-Appointed” Independent Medico-legal Assessments (JAIME’s)
We will ensure the availability of timely appointments for insurer, employer and legal referrals where the opinion of our doctors is sought jointly by the parties to a dispute or to jointly explore compensation entitlements, work capacity and impairment ratings. We call such assessments “Jointly-Appointed Independent Medical Assessments”.
“Standard” Independent Medico-legal Assessments (IME’s)
While we will make available limited numbers of “standard” independent medico-legal examinations at the request of insurers or lawyers representing employers, injured workers or insurers, where the assessment is at the request, and for the benefit of, only one party, our preferred approach is to conduct JAIME’s wherever possible.
Dr Sharman and Dr Crowell can provide both types of medico-legal assessment.
Hobart Occupational Medicine believes in transparency when it comes to billing and accounts. Our accounts show the actual times and hourly rates for the doctors that have worked on the report, including the actual costs for transcription of the dictated report. Our fees for medico-legal reports are reviewed at least every 12 months. Current fees apply as follows.
Both doctors charge $485.00 per hour (plus GST) for JAIME assessments provided both parties confirm their agreement to jointly commission the assessment i.e. both the plaintiff and defendant lawyer (or insurer) agree to an assessment being conducted by our doctors or one of our doctors in involved in a jointly agreed multi-practitioner assessment.
Where Dr Crowell undertakes an assessment, there is no additional charge for Dr Sharman’s involvement in reviewing report quality, but an additional fee might apply if Dr Sharman is directly involved in the assessment, by prior arrangement with the party (s) commissioning the report.
Our charge for standard IME assessments is based on $505.00 per hour (plus GST). The fee for Dr Sharman to give evidence before the Workers’ Compensation Tribunal or other courts is $600.00 per hour (plus GST). Preparation and waiting time will be charged at $485.00 per hour (plus GST). Travel time to and from the court is also charged at $485.00 per hour (plus GST).
Preparation of reports at the request of lawyers about patients receiving treatment at the practice is charged at a rate of $631.25 per hour (plus GST). The same rate applies for Independent Medico-legal Assessments conducted by Dr Sharman in relation to his specialised area of interest i.e. Upper Limb Pain related to computer work or overuse.
“Out of pocket” expenses, such as transcription of reports and the costs of accessing literature, will be charged at cost.
Non-attendance & Court/Tribunal Attendance Administrative Charges
Our normal business terms require payment of accounts within 14 days of issue of the invoice. A late payment fee of $75.00 will be applied where accounts remain unpaid beyond 30 days and an additional fee of 5% per month, if the account remains outstanding, will also apply.
We expect that legal practitioners requesting medico-legal reports, will ensure funding is available to pay medico-legal report fees within our terms of business as set out below. While we sometimes agree to arrangements for a reduction in fees or deferral of payment of fees to allow patients referred by their doctor to have necessary treatment, we cannot normally discount or extend payment times for medico-legal reports except in very exceptional circumstances (and only by prior arrangement with the legal practitioner concerned).
Non-attendance and cancellation fees will apply in some circumstances. We normally require at least 24 hours’ notice of cancellation of a medico-legal appointment (or notice on Friday for an appointment scheduled on Monday). Where no notice is provided and a scheduled medico-legal appointment does not proceed due to non-attendance or late attendance, a charge of up to $485.00 (plus GST) will normally apply. A charge of $485.00 (plus GST) will also apply where less than 24 hours’ notice is given of cancellation of a Tribunal (or other courtroom) attendance. Higher cancellation fees may apply if tribunal attendances are cancelled with minimal notice.
A non-refundable booking fee of $485.00 (plus GST) will be charged when arrangements are made for our doctors to attend the Tribunal (or other courtroom) to give expert evidence. This fee covers the administrative costs of arranging the attendance and/or changing the attendance time should that be necessary. The fee also covers the costs of cancellation of the attendance, provided the cancellation is made more than 24 hours before a scheduled attendance.
These arrangements are effective from 01 September 2021.