Can You Choose Your Own Doctor if You are Injured at Work?
The choice of your doctor is a very personal one. Your doctor is a trusted advocate, and the person that is responsible for bringing you back to full health mentally and physically. Luckily, Louisiana workers’ compensation laws allow injured workers to select their own treating physicians.
You Can Choose Your Doctor
Under Louisiana law, if you are injured in an accident at work, you have the right to select your own doctor. Additionally, the law provides the worker the right to choose his or her own doctor in every field. So if you need, for example, a neurologist, a psychiatrist and an orthopedist, you would be able to choose your own doctor in each field.
Additionally, doctors who treat you on an emergency basis are not considered physicians selected by the worker, and thus presenting to the ER or to an emergency clinic, will not waive your right to select your own doctor. However, continuing to treat with a physician who treated you on an emergency basis, may qualify as an election of that doctor.
Insurance Companies’ Rights
However, there are some restrictions on these freedoms.
The first restriction is that if you want to change physicians, you would then need the workers’ compensation insurance company’s permission. That means that workers should be sure to pick their initial treating doctors wisely.
Many insurance companies will give you a list of “their” doctors, and some may even suggest that you must choose your doctor from that list. This is not correct. You should be very careful before ever selecting a doctor from any list provided to you by a workers’ compensation insurer. The doctors on their lists are often doctors that are more likely to determine that you are healthy and ready to return to work before you actually are.
The other restriction is that the worker must, when requested to do so by the workers’ compensation insurance company, submit to a one-time examination by a doctor of the insurance company’s choosing. Unlike the treating doctor who provides ongoing treatment, this insurance-company chosen doctor is only doing a one time evaluation of the patient.
These “one-time doctors” are often doctors that do extensive work for the insurance company. They are often chosen by the insurance company because of the doctors’ propensity to cut off benefits, or to evaluate workers as being healthier than they actually are. The doctors often make a lot of money from insurance companies, and thus, render opinions that are favorable to those companies, as opposed to being favorable towards injured workers.
Before selecting a workers’ compensation doctor, you should consult with a workers’ compensation attorney. It is always advisable to work with doctors who have experience treating injured workers, as well as doctors who are organized and who will quickly provide records, evaluations, and other documents when they are needed.
Have you been injured at work? Our New Orleans workers’ compensation attorneys at Lunsford Baskin & Priebe PLLC can help you get the treatment and the benefits that you need. Contact us today to discuss your possible workers’ compensation case.