What is the role of the treating doctor in a Workers’ Compensation claim?
Workers’ compensation is an essential part of physically and financially recovering from a workplace injury. One aspect of receiving compensation that is often overlooked is the importance of your treating doctor. Your treating doctor, also known as your attending physician, is the person who’s primarily responsible for treating your injuries. You need a doctor that does more than treat your injuries—you need someone who will help you with your workers’ compensation case. Your treating doctor’s assessment and documentation of your injuries are critical in receiving the compensation you should be entitled to.
Choosing Your Workers’ Compensation Doctor
In order for your medical counsel to be your treating doctor, they need to be a licensed medical doctor, oral and maxillofacial surgeon, doctor of osteopathy, or chiropractor. If your primary doctor is a chiropractor, they can only be your doctor for the first 30 days after your first visit or only up to 12 total visits.
Whether or not you can choose your own treating doctor after a workplace injury differs from state to state. In Louisiana and Mississippi, you have the right to choose your own doctor, and you don’t need to go with your employer-provided workers’ compensation doctor. In fact, choosing a workers’ compensation doctor can be detrimental to your recovery because workers’ compensation doctors are often incentivized to underplay the severity of your injuries. Your employer and their insurance company want to avoid paying your full claim, so they’ll influence your medical treatment and recovery to save money.
Additionally, it’s important to note that you can only have one treating physician at a time. You’ll likely need to see multiple specialists for your injuries, but you can only have one attending physician. You can change your attending physician after initially receiving treatment, but you can only change doctors two times. If you need to change your treating doctor more than twice, you’ll need to receive approval from the Director of the Department of Consumer and Business Services.
When picking your treating physician you should look over their patient history and reviews. During the review process, you should also make sure the doctor has experience treating workplace injuries. If a doctor doesn’t have a high satisfaction rate when it comes to handling workers’ compensation cases, you should avoid them. Additionally, you can consult with other employees at your work who may have been injured on the job. They can give you valuable guidance into excellent doctors and who to avoid.
What the Treating Physician Does in Workers’ Compensation Cases
Once you find the right treating doctor for you, they should fulfill key roles in your physical recovery and financial compensation. Your attending physician diagnoses your injury or illness and they’ll treat your ailment accordingly. The medical diagnosis is a critical part of the workers’ compensation process because you’ll need it in order to prove your claim.
Your treating doctor will also refer you to specialists for your injuries. Specialists may include physical therapists, radiologists, plastic surgeons, and other medical professionals.
One critical role your doctor fulfills in your recovery and compensation is determining your workplace restrictions. After your diagnosis, your doctor will determine if you need to take time away from work or declare if you can’t do certain functions while at work. If they determine that you need time away from work, you can receive temporary disability benefits. Your doctor also determines when it’s safe for you to return to work. This role is crucial in your recovery because you can injure yourself further if you return to work too quickly.
After you reach the point in which you won’t recover further, your doctor will determine if you have any permanent disabilities. Their assessment will determine your permanent disability benefits. Your treating doctor assigns you with a percentage of permanent disability that indicates your ability to earn wages. For example, if your doctor assigns you a permanent impairment rating of 30%, your disability limits your capacity to earn a full wage by 30%, and you would receive permanent partial disability benefits to reflect your earning capacity.
The final key role that your doctor fulfills is their record keeping. Your doctor keeps a record of all of your visits, and your medical records are crucial in receiving workers’ compensation and permanent disability benefits. You need consistent paperwork covering your treatment in order to prove your claim. Additionally, judges trust treating doctors, so your doctor’s testimony of your condition plays a critical role in receiving full workers’ compensation if your employer’s insurance company underpays or denies your claim.
Contact Expert Workers’ Compensation Attorneys
Finding the doctor that’s right for your workplace injuries can be challenging. If you need assistance in finding a treating physician or if you need assistance regarding your workers’ compensation claim, contact Lunsford, Baskin, and Priebe, PLLC. Our seasoned workers’ compensation lawyers have helped numerous individuals receive the money they deserve from a workplace injury. We’ll be with you every step of the way in your recovery process, and we’ll fight for you if your claim is underpaid or denied. For legal assistance in Mississippi, call 604-983-2667, and for legal guidance in Louisiana, call 504-788-2994. Additionally, you can click here for a free case evaluation.