Kirk v. Anderson
Kirk v. Anderson, 2021 UT 41 (Himonas, J.)
An employee was in an accident and made a claim for workers’ compensation benefits. His company sent him to a doctor for an independent medical exam, and the doctor concluded that the employee’s injuries from the accident were minimal and that all other injuries were secondary or from pre-existing conditions. The employee then filed for a hearing before the Utah Labor Commission, which concluded that the accident caused significant injuries. The employee then sued the doctor for negligence and reckless conduct because of the erroneous exam. The district court dismissed the complaint against the doctor. The Utah Supreme Court affirmed, holding:
- Independent medical examiners do not owe a duty of care to those they examine for workers’ compensation claims. The purpose of this exam is not to provide treatment but to provide the workers’ compensation carrier with independent information on the employee’s injuries.
- Under strong public policy reasons, experts are not liable if their professional opinions cause a delay in legal proceedings.