|Post by Suzy B. Cole|
Workers’ compensation practitioners have long referred to medical treatment beyond MMI as “Dodge medical” based on the 1999 Court of Appeals opinion Dodge v. Bruccoli, Clark, Layman, Inc. The Court of Appeals held a claimant was entitled to medical treatment that “tended to lessen his disability” even after he reached MMI based on the language of South Carolina Code §42-15-60 (the medical statute).
A good example of Dodge medical is periodic injections that help a claimant remain functional to work. When lawyers settle cases or draw Orders, we often indicate a claimant is entitled to Dodge medical. But is Dodge still the law of the land?
In 2007, The South Carolina legislature amended §42-15-60 to add restrictions on when claimants could receive ongoing medical treatment. In addition to requiring medical evidence that ongoing treatment is necessary, the amendment also added an important caveat, which is if a claimant stops treating for more than one year, he is not entitled to further treatment absent an Order or Agreement to the contrary.
Technically, Dodge is still good case law. The new §42-15-60 still allows for treatment beyond MMI that will allow a claimant to continue working. However, by agreeing to Dodge medical in an Order or Agreement, practitioners forfeit the carrier’s protection under §42-15-60 if the claimant stops treating for more than one year. The better practice is to agree to continuing medical treatment pursuant to §42-15-60.