Georgia workers compensation covers the medical treatment you need for your injury, but there are limits on what it covers. One limit is that you cannot just pick any doctor you want to treat your injury. Most of the time, you have to pick a doctor off a list maintained by your employer or get an order from a judge saying you can see a different doctor.
Often, you may have questions about what the workers compensation doctor recommends. In this situation, it can be important to consider the options you have to get a second opinion from another doctor.
Why might I need a second opinion from another doctor?
Several things can happen in your case that could make you consider getting a second opinion.
- Your doctor recommends a course of treatment and you have questions about whether you should pursue the course of treatment
- A doctor recommends that you get a second opinion
- Your workers compensation doctor says you can return to work, but you know you are going to have significant difficulties doing your job
- The insurance company denies medical treatment that you need
When these things happen, you will probably want to think about whether a second opinion from another doctor would help you. Sometimes, you will need to have that second opinion to make sure you receive the medical treatment and benefits you should.
How can I get a second opinion?
There are several different ways that you can get a second opinion from a doctor. This article I wrote discusses many of the different options that you can consider. Unfortunately, some of the options for getting another medical opinion can only be used once.
For example, you only have a one time free change on the panel of physicians. This right lets you change from one doctor to another doctor on the panel of physicians without requiring your employer’s permission. Once you use that right, you may not be able to change doctors on the panel again.
Another second opinion right that you generally only get to use once is the right to an independent medical evaluation with a doctor of your choosing. You generally only get to choose one independent medical evaluation in your whole case. Georgia’s workers compensation laws place certain limits on when you get to use this right.
Can I get more than one second opinion?
Many injured workers get sent to multiple “second opinion” doctors by the workers compensation insurance company. The insurance company can use its right to get an independent medical examination almost as much as it would like. I have had clients sent for more than five independent medical examinations.
Since the insurance company is paying for these examinations, the law does not place a certain number limit on the times that the insurance company can get second opinion examinations. If the insurance company wants to send you for too many examinations, you may be able to argue that is not reasonable.
Fortunately, you can also get more than one second opinion examination. However, getting additional second opinions may be trickier for you.
One way you can get additional second opinions is to pay for them. This lets you see another doctor to get another opinion. Unfortunately, it also costs money.
Since medical treatment can be expensive, it may be difficult for you to find the money to pay for a second opinion with a doctor when you are trying to get by after a workers compensation injury. In some cases, your attorney might cover the cost of getting a second opinion if it is needed to help your case.
If I cannot pay for a second opinion, are there other ways that I can get an additional second opinion?
Yes. Another way that you can get a second opinion is by having your treating workers compensation doctor refer you for a second opinion with another doctor. If your main workers compensation doctor refers you for a second opinion, the insurance company should have to pay for that second opinion appointment.