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July 27, 2009

Agency Raises Limit on Assessing Costs for Doctor Reports

In an Appeal Decision filed in late July, 2009, Caven v. Deere Dubuque Works, the Iowa Division of Workers’ Compensation rules will no longer be interpreted to limit the award of costs for doctor reports to $150.00. That is potentially a major change.

Previously, the agency had a rule allowing an award to the prevailing party for the cost of doctor opinions, but in practice limited such awards to $150.00. The Appeal Decision in Caven cited the actual language of the rule, 876 Iowa Administrative Code 4.33, which contains no such limit on the cost of obtaining medical reports.

In practice, prevailing parties may spend large amounts obtaining reports from treating physicians. The agency had set a limit of $150.00 for costs of physician reports about 25 years ago, when $150.00 was a more reasonable amount. In Caven, the agency precedent limiting the costs to $150.00 was overturned. The physician in the Caven case charged $972.00 for the medical report, and the agency directed the employer to pay the full amount.

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