(a) When medical questions are in controversy in any claim for compensation for an occupational disease, the parties may agree to refer the employee to a licensed physician specializing in the diagnosis and treatment of the disease at issue for an independent medical examination and report. In the event that the parties cannot agree on the referral to be made, the State Board of Workers’ Compensation shall refer the employee to a licensed physician who specializes in diagnosis and treatment of the disease at issue and who is certified by the appropriate medical board in the field encompassing such disease for an independent medical examination and report. No award may be made in such case until the appointed physician has filed with the board the report respecting all medical questions at issue. The date of disablement, if in dispute, shall be deemed a medical question. The board is authorized to charge the expense of the independent medical examination and report against either or both parties in the final award.
(b) Proceedings may be suspended and no compensation may be payable for any period during which the employee may unreasonably fail or refuse to submit to such an examination.
(c) Upon the filing of a claim for compensation for death from an occupational disease where an autopsy is necessary to accurately and scientifically ascertain or determine the cause of death, such autopsy may be ordered by the board. The board may specify and designate a licensed physician who is a specialist in such examinations and who is certified by the appropriate medical board in the field encompassing such disease to perform or attend the autopsy and to certify his or her findings thereon. Such findings shall be filed with the State Board of Workers’ Compensation and shall become a part of the record in the case. In the event no claim has been filed, the board may exercise such authority on its own motion or on application made at any time, upon presentation of facts showing that a controversy may arise in regard to the cause of death or the existence of any occupational disease. The board is authorized to charge the expense of any such autopsy against the party requesting it.
(d) The physician selected to conduct the independent medical examination of the claimant, and to issue a report on all medical questions presented, shall report in writing and file with the board all findings and conclusions on every medical question in controversy as soon as practicable, but in any event no later than 60 days after the date on which the independent medical examination, or autopsy, has been completed.
(e) Either party may submit information to and may cross-examine such physician in accordance with paragraph (2) of subsection (e) of Code Section 34-9-102. Each party submitting information to such physician shall serve a copy of such information to the opposing party. The findings and conclusions contained in such report or testimony of such physician shall create a presumption of the correctness of such findings and conclusions, which presumption may be rebutted by other competent medical evidence.