Injured At Work? Do You Have The Right To Your Choice Of Physician?

The short answer: yes. When you suffer a compensable injury at work, your employer has to offer medical treatment to you. Your options are to accept the offered treatment or elect to seek treatment with a medical provider of your choosing. Sounds pretty simple, right? Unfortunately, in the chaos that can arise after an injury, it may not be that simple.

Injured man reading letterWhat are your options?

Miss. Code Ann. § 71-3-15 provides that an injured worker has the right to either accept the medical treatment offered by the employer or to select one competent physician of his or her choosing. If the injured worker accepts the employer's offer, the acceptance should be confirmed in writing in order to formally constitute his or her choice. However, even if the injured worker does not formally confirm the employer's choice in writing, if he or she still treats with the employer's choice for six months or longer, or has surgery by the employer's choice, that choice shall automatically be deemed the injured worker's choice. This sounds as clear as mud, right? Just wait, there is more.

Whether you accept your employer's choice of physician or choose your own, this initial choice is really the only time you have complete control over the course of your medical treatment. Once your initial choice has been made, you are limited to treatment with that choice and any referrals made by that choice to one physician in other areas of specialty. For example, if your initial choice is a general practitioner, the general practitioner can refer you to one orthopedic specialist, one neurosurgeon, one physiatrist, etc., but he or she cannot refer you to two different orthopedic specialists, two neurosurgeons, two physiatrists, etc. So as you can see, choosing your physician can be a crucial decision in the life of your claim.

What else should you know?

I cannot tell you how many times I have heard my clients tell me that their employer or employer's insurance company never told them that they had the right to turn down the employer's offer of treatment and choose their own medical provider. And often by the time they get to me, so much time has passed since their injury that their options going forward may be limited. Alternatively, perhaps they were informed of their rights, but in the immediate aftermath following the injury they felt pressured to elect to treat with the employer's choice because doing so appeared to be the path of least resistance. Don't overlook the importance of the choice-of-physician decision, and don't let anyone pressure you into making a questionable decision!

If you have any questions concerning an injury at work, do not hesitate to contact our office at (601) 869-0696. We'll be happy to help!

Summary

When you suffer a compensable injury at work, your employer has to offer medical treatment to you. Your options are to accept the offered treatment, or elect to seek treatment with a medical provider of your choosing. Choosing your medical provider can be a crucial decision in the life of your claim. Don't overlook the importance of this decision or let anyone pressure you into making a questionable decision!

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