Do I have to treat with my employers’ physician/doctor?… What you don’t know!
Posted on Monday, September 24th, 2012 at 6:14 pm
We are often on the receiving end of phone calls from recently injured workers who inform us that their employer and/or the insurance company has told them that they must treat with a doctor selected by the employer and/or insurance company for the first 90 days. The employee is upset because they don’t want to do anything to jeopardize the workers’ compensation claim or their employment with the company. Since the employee, unless they’re also a former client, typically is not yet intimately familiar with the attorneys in our office, the employee often questions us when we tell them that, contrary to what the employer is saying, in nine out of ten cases they are free to treat with whatever doctor they choose.
Did employer comply with Workers’ Compensation Act?
After we tell the employee this, we frequently receive a phone call several days later from the insurance company adjuster for the employer, who informs our office that new client is not complying with the panel requirements and that the bills wont be paid and the claim might be denied. A back and forth then ensues where we ask the adjuster to provide proof that the employer complied with the requirements under the Workers Compensation Act necessary in order to require the employee to treat with one of the employers company doctors. After many years of practice, we have discovered that typically, the adjuster is not even aware of what the requirements are under the Workers Compensation Act!
When must I treat with a physician/doctor chosen by my employer?
In short, the employer can require a recently injured employee to choose from one of a list of healthcare providers IF, AND ONLY IF the following two things have occurred:
- The employee signed a form at the time of hire acknowledging that if the employee was injured he/she would have to select from the panel list provided by the employer and treat with a healthcare provider on that panel for 90 days; AND
- The employee signed the very same form again immediately after his/her injury was reported.
THE EMPLOYER CANNOT CHOOSE FOR YOU! Many times the employer simply tells the employee that they must go to a particular healthcare provider. THIS IS NOT LEGAL AND YOU DO NOT HAVE TO GO TO THE FACILITY THEY DIRECT YOU TO. Rather, the employee may choose from the list provided, which must contain at least six healthcare providers on it. Additionally, if the list is lacking in any particular specialty, the employee may go to whoever he/she wants. For example, if the list does not contain the name of a chiropractor who the employee may choose, then the employee gets to see any chiropractor he/she wants to see.
Employers and insurance companies do not provide this information to recently injured workers because they do not want them to know what their legal rights are. There is a reason why the employers want injured workers to see their doctors, and it is simply that they know that their doctors will provide substandard care and will release the injured workers back to work without any diagnostic testing and without ensuring that the employee is truly ready to return to his/her job.
If you have been injured at work, don’t let your employer and its insurance company tell you what your rights are. Find out for yourself – call Zavodnick, Zavodnick & Lasky, LLC at (215) 875-7030 for a free legal consultation. Our Philadelphia workers compensation attorneys are waiting to assist you.