So you got hurt at work and you need medical attention. In Louisiana, workers’ compensation benefits pay for that care in most cases where an employee gets injured on the job.
There’s a good chance your boss will send you to a doctor or clinic arranged by your company.
It can seem like this is required. Your employer has workers’ comp insurance coverage that provides for your medical treatment. You feel like you’ve got to follow their directions.
But can workers’ comp force you to see their doctor in Louisiana?
And this is a bigger deal than you might realize.
Besides paying for your medical care itself, workers’ comp also provides income to you when you have to miss work, and other benefits.
To get the full benefits available to you so you can put this episode behind you, you need a doctor who’s fully on your side.
That’s not necessarily the doctor your employer sends you to.
So how do you handle getting the health care you need in a way that protects your rights?
Let’s take it step by step . . .
First know this: the day your job injury happens, that’s not the time to worry about workers’ comp rules.
Take care of your immediate well-being.
If it’s an emergency, go to whatever emergency room you can.
If it’s less than an emergency room situation, still see a health care provider right away. Go where you can get in. Tell the doctors and nurses there that your injury happened on the job.
If your first visit after the work accident is to a clinic where your employer sent you, follow up quickly with another visit to a doctor’s office that you picked.
Workers’ comp can’t force you to see their doctor in Louisiana. The workers’ comp process can be difficult in many ways, but one part of Louisiana workers’ compensation law that protects employees the most is this right you have to choose your doctor.
You might wonder how much difference there could be from one doctor to another.
Which doctor you see can make a major difference…
Once you’re beyond the initial response to your injury, and now it’s time to manage your ongoing recovery, this is when you should make sure you have the right doctor for the occasion.
Here is why one that you choose yourself—not one your employer sends you to—is better:
Multiple circumstances can come into play where it’s better for you to have a doctor working only for you, not your employer.
If you need more time away from work to recover, your own doctor won’t hesitate to say it. If you need treatment that might be expensive to the workers’ comp insurance company, your own doctor won’t hold back on recommending it.
If you need your employer to make special arrangements for you to return to work, arrangements that could require time, effort and expense on the part of your boss, your own doctor will lay out those facts for you.
We’ve had clients at our Louisiana workers’ compensation law firm get the runaround on receiving the right care from doctors who weren’t their own. We’ve seen doctors tell people they can go back to work when they need more time to heal.
Our workers’ compensation lawyers can help you make sure you’re getting care from doctors who will provide what you need for your workers’ comp claim.
A workers’ comp attorney helps you bridge the gap between your medical care and your legal rights under the workers’ compensation system.
Now, there is a time when you can be ordered to go to a different doctor during your workers’ comp claim—not your doctor or your employer’s handpicked doctor.
When a company doctor disagrees with your own doctor, a workers’ comp judge can order you to see another doctor for a third opinion. (Yes, the workers’ comp process can involve going before judges.)
This time, you have to cooperate. You don’t want to hurt your chance at getting benefits that can sustain you during an interruption to your livelihood by refusing to listen to a judge.
Even in the case of an “independent medical exam” however, you have rights that you may need a workers’ comp lawyer to protect.
For example, sometimes YOU may be the one requesting an independent medical exam (IME) because it could help your workers’ comp claim.
Other times, your employer may request an IME. Watch out for that one. Our workers’ comp lawyers have seen employers use independent medical exams as part of an attempt to deny benefits.
But employers have to follow the exact right procedures under Louisiana workers’ comp law to request an IME.
If you have an experienced workers’ comp attorney by your side, they can spot when there’s a problem and possibly help you avoid going to an exam that might delay or endanger your benefits.
When you’re hurt at work, a lot is riding on what doctor you see.
Workers’ comp benefits can get you through a difficult time both physically and financially. They protect your stability. They help you move past a trauma and move on with your life.
Do you want to check up on your workers’ comp rights and choice of doctor?
We even made a TV commercial that addresses this very issue about getting the right workers’ comp doctor: