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Florida First DCA rules in Worker’s Compensation case that Employer/Servicing Agent forfeited right to select one-time change physician under Fla. Stat. § 440.13(2)(f)due to delay in following up with new doctor after initial selection

On June 16, 2021, in St. Lucie Public Schools/Relation Insurance Services of Florida v. Alexander, No. 1D20-2266, the Florida First DCA affirmed a Judge of Compensation Claims (JCC) ruling that a Worker’s Compensation (WC) claimant was entitled to select the one-time change physician under section 440.13(2)(f), Florida Statutes, because the employer/servicing agent failed to act quickly enough on the claimant’s request for a one-time change. The agent provided the name of another doctor two days after the claimant’s request but did not engage in any follow-up for sixteen days after providing the new doctor with the claimant’s medical records for review and did not make any actual contact with the doctor’s office until twenty-one days later, at which time the doctor declined to treat the claimant and another physician was located. The first DCA concluded that the agent forfeited the right of selection because they unreasonably delayed setting an appointment with an alternative physician, citing City of Bartow v.Flores, 301 So. 3d 1091, 1099 (Fla. 1st DCA 2020) (“[an] E/C forfeits the right of selection if it subsequently fails to provide the alternate physician by unreasonable delay in acquisition of an appointment date.”).