If you are injured while on the job, then you certainly have a right to medical treatment. Getting appropriate medical care is not only important for your health and recovery, but also for maximizing your workers’ compensation benefits and making sure that you’re properly compensated for your injuries.
Louisiana allows an injured worker to select his or her choice of physician in each medical specialty, like orthopedics. However, the worker’s comp insurance company has the right to send the injured worker for a second medical opinion in each specialty. If the injured worker likes the company’s physician better, he or she can switch to that physician.
When Should You Seek Treatment?
With any type of work-related injury, even injuries that seem minor, you should still seek treatment right away to evaluate the extent of any injuries. This means seeing a doctor immediately following a work-related accident, or at the first sign of any symptoms that might be due to your work duties.
Being treated soon after you’ve been injured serves two important purposes. First, early treatment makes it more likely that you’ll recover from your injuries faster. Second, the closer in time to your accident that you receive treatment, the less room it gives your employer (or its insurance company) to argue that your injuries are not work-related.
No matter what you end up deciding, you should resist the urge to “tough it out,” or to downplay the seriousness of your injuries. This could delay or impede your overall recovery, and it could even affect the scope of the medical treatment that will be authorized by workers’ comp, up to and including the amount of benefits that you ultimately receive. Don’t take unnecessary risks when it comes to your health — there is nothing more important.
Where Should I Go To Get Medical Treatment?
If you need immediate medical attention, you should go to the nearest emergency room for treatment. Louisiana gives the employee the right to choose the doctor who will treat you for your injuries, while other states may give the employer that right.
Although doctors hired by employers (or their insurance companies) are supposed to be objective, the same physicians are often hired again and again by the insurance companies. Because of this, it’s in your best interest to receive treatment from a doctor that you know and can trust. Whenever possible, it is recommended that you choose your own treating physician.
Make sure to choose a doctor who is both experienced and articulate. Treating physicians are often called upon to provide written reports or even oral testimony, so it’s important that your doctor can clearly and convincingly explain the reasons behind his or her decisions regarding your care.
What Role Does Your Workers’ Compensation Physician Play?
The physician who ends up treating you will play an essential role in your workers’ compensation case. Your treating doctor will make important decisions about your care, including:
- whether your injuries are work-related
- the nature and scope of the treatment you receive
- how much time off from work you need, or whether you need light duty
- when you have reached “maximum medical improvement,” and
- the extent to which you have any permanent disability.
These decisions will have a large impact on what treatment you receive and what benefits you are entitled to. For example, if your doctor says you’ve reached maximum medical improvement, this means that your condition has reached the point where further medical treatment isn’t helpful. It could also mean that you’re no longer entitled to temporary disability benefits.
In addition, the degree of permanent disability your doctor believes you have could dictate the amount of benefits you receive.
What if My Doctor And My Company’s Doctor Are Issuing Different Medical Reports?
If any dispute arises as to the condition of the employee, a request for Independent Medical Examination form can be filed by any party. A medical examination with a physician selected by the Director of the Office of Workers’ Compensation Administration (OWCA) will then be scheduled. The independent medical examiner has 30 days from the date of the examination to issue a report. The office of the independent medical examiner cannot be contacted for any reason except to set a deposition. No appointments can be changed except by OWCA.
Get Workers’ Compensation Help Today
Workers’ compensation claims can be very difficult to navigate, especially if your employer is contesting any portion of your claim. Getting the help of an experienced workers’ compensation attorney can be invaluable in making sure that you are fully compensated for your medical treatment or loss of wages. To consult with an experienced workers’ compensation attorney in Shreveport, contact our office today at Fischer & Manno Law.