Can You See Your Own Doctor for a Workers’ Compensation Claim? Your Rights Explained
If you’re injured on the job, it’s likely your first priority will be getting the treatment you need. But before you make medical decisions that could affect not only your health but, also your workers’ compensation claim, it’s important to know your rights.
If you have a trusted family physician already, chances are you’d like to see your own doctor after an injury. However, in Georgia, there are strict rules about selecting a physician after a workplace injury. While you may ultimately be able to see a doctor of your choice, you’ll need to go about doing it in the right way—ideally with the help of a Macon workers compensation lawyer.
What is a posted panel of physicians?
In Georgia, companies are required to maintain a posted panel of physicians—a public list of accessible doctors in the area. According to O.C.G.A. § 34-9-201, this list should include at least six physicians, including an orthopedic physician, a minority physician and no more than two physicians from industrial clinics (clinics that specialize in occupational medicine).
The list should be somewhere you can see it easily, like a break room or common area. After an injury, you have the right to choose any physician from the list. Some employers will lead you to believe you must visit one doctor in particular, or be examined at the company clinic. This is not the case. While you are initially limited to the doctors on the posted panel of physicians, the choice is yours.
Can I switch physicians?
The physician in your workers’ compensation case, known as the authorized treating physician, will have a lot of influence. He or she will assess the extent of your injuries, look for pre-existing injuries, and determine if you’re fit to return to work. You’ll want to make sure the doctor is experienced, capable and fair. If, after visiting one of the doctors on the posted panel of physicians, you’re unhappy with your treatment, you can make a one-time switch to another doctor on the panel after notifying your employer.
Can I get a second opinion?
Independent of your right to switch one-panel doctor to another, you’re also entitled to a second opinion if you have received weekly benefit checks within the past 120 days. You can select your own doctor, one who is not on the panel, to make an assessment of your injury.
If your employer doesn’t properly display, maintain, or notify you of the posted panel of physicians, you may be allowed to choose your own physician. According to O.C.G.A. § 34-9-201, “After notice has been given to the employer, that physician so selected becomes the authorized treating physician, and the employee may make one change from that physician to another physician without the approval of the employer and without an order of the Board.”
In Georgia, your options for selecting a physician are somewhat limited. Still, with the help of an experienced Macon work injury lawyer, you can get the treatment you need without jeopardizing your claim.
The attorneys at Buzzell, Graham & Welsh will help ensure that your employer is providing you with the treatment you need. Contact the Macon workers’ compensation attorneys at Buzzell, Graham & Welsh for your free consultation today.