In you’re hurt at work in Virginia, you are NOT prevented from seeing any doctor you want to, and having treatment from the doctor you choose. You must simply realize that you may not be able to get the workers compensation carrier to pay for such treatment. You have the right to get a second opinion from a non-company doctor as long as you pay for it. (Depending on the case, our firm may sometimes arrange and pay for the evaluation and then get reimbursed when there is an eventual settlement of your case).
Considerations when choosing your own doctor
Most of the time, you will be paying for this doctor yourself. Your own health insurance may pick up some of the cost after any appropriate deductibles.
You run this risk of being accused of not following recommended treatment. You should continue treatment with the company doctor(s) unless the treatment paths contradict each other. If different doctors recommend different treatments, then you should to review your options with your attorney. If you discontinue your treatments, medications or therapy there is severe danger the employer will seek to cut off your benefits because you’re not following recommended medical advice.
When Should You Use Your Own Doctor
You should really only utilize the option of seeking treatment outside of workers’ compensation when the claim is denied, or where you have reached the end of your treatment and maximum medical improvement, or where the authorized treating physician has indicated there is nothing more than can be done for you. If you do seek the advice or the opinion of another doctor during the course of treatment with an authorized treating doctor, that does not necessarily mean you should cease treating with the authorized treating doctor at all. Continue treating and follow his or her advice, but at the same time you should obtain a report setting forth the opinions of the second opinion doctor for potential evidence in your case. It really depends on the individual circumstance.
How our firm works with Second Opinion Doctors
We primarily send our clients to second opinion doctors where the issue of causation is in question, or when the client has finished treatment and we need a doctor to thoroughly discuss issues pertaining to the future such as future medical care, permanency ratings, physical restrictions, etc. in order to help us obtain a more favorable settlement.
The best part is that the Commission can give just as much weight to the opinion of a doctor we choose as opposed to the authorized treating doctor, if the 2nd opinion doctor makes sense and if the 2nd Opinion doctor has rendered you significant treatment.
How do you find a second opinion doctor?
The good news is we have lists of such doctors who we know will give you a fair shake. Oftentimes, if you are stuck with one of these ‘company’ doctors, it makes sense to get to fair-minded doctor as soon as possible. Many times, these 2nd opinion doctors will recommend diagnostic tests, such as MRIs or nerve tests that were completely ignored or overlooked by the authorized treating physician that will reveal a serious problem that you might otherwise never have discovered.
Switching Authorized Treating Doctors
Occasionally, we are able to seek out our own choice of physician for our clients AND get the Commission to order that the workers compensation carrier pay for it. This is likely to happen if the carrier denies coverage entirely or accepts coverage up to a certain date and then denies it. It can also happen if the authorized treating physician refuses to provide any further treatment for the client or says he or she ‘has nothing more to offer’ the patient. If we are successful in the claim, we can obtain an Order from the Commission requiring the carrier to pay for all related treatment from the newly selected doctor.
Confused? Call Us Right Away
A lot of things can go wrong if you handle your workers’ compensation case on your own. You may lose your claim or fail to get all the benefits you deserve. As a skilled lawyer, Joe Miller has helped thousands of injured workers. Call the Work Injury Center at 888-694-1671 right away to make sure you receive Strong Justice and your rights are protected.