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Will the Workers’ Compensation Doctor Treat Me Fairly?

Many people refer to the doctors who provide medical treatment for work injuries as workers compensation doctors.  Some people use the term “company doctors”.

In Georgia, injured workers are often told that they must go to the doctor that the employer or workers’ compensation insurance company chooses. This is not the case the case.

Do Workers Compensation Doctors Actually Work For My Employer?

Probably not. The doctors are picked by your employer to be on their list of doctors (otherwise known as the “panel of physicians”). However, that does not mean the doctor works for your employer.

Your employer should have a posted panel of physicians (unless your employer uses a WC/MCO). This panel should have at least six doctors on it. The doctor that your employer sent you to is probably one of the doctors on the panel.

Many employers use the panel of physicians to their advantage. They may pick doctors who are likely to say that you are not as hurt as you say you are. They may pick doctors who are likely to blame your problems on a preexisting condition instead of the work injury.

This can prevent you from getting the medical treatment you need and the wage loss benefits you should receive if you have to miss work as a result of your injury.

Many people worry that a workers' compensation doctor will not treat them fairly

Will the Workers Compensation Doctor Treat Me Fairly?

It depends. Some employers put good and fair doctors on the panel of physicians. Some employers do not. If your employer is picking the doctors on the panel of physicians, they may pick doctors who will make it difficult to get the treatment you need.

You want to get better.  You need to treat with a doctor with good ability. You also need a doctor who is fair.

To do this, you need to understand your right to choose your doctor. You also need to be on the lookout for signs that your current doctor is not treating you fairly.

Your main workers compensation doctor (also known as your “authorized treating physician”) has a lot of power in your case. The doctor’s opinion about your ability to work can result in your benefits being stopped or started. The doctor’s opinion about what medical treatment is necessary will definitely how well you recover from your injury.

Make sure you have a good, fair doctor.

There are many exceptions to this rule, so you often will be able to have at least some input into your choice of doctors.

What is the rule on choosing doctors?

State Board Rule 201 contains some of the information about how doctors are chosen in a Georgia workers’ compensation case.

Subsection (a) of this rule which talks about the employer’s list of doctors (technically known in most cases as the “panel of physicians”) talks about two different types of lists that an employer may have.  This article is only going to focus on the first type of list (the traditional “panel of physicians”) because it is the type of list used in most Georgia workers’ compensation cases.

Board Rule 201(a)(1) specifies that an employer’s panel of physicians must have the following:

  1. At least six (6) physicians or professional associations or corporations of physicians
  2. At least one orthopedic physician
  3. No more than two industrial clinics
  4. At least one minority physicians

So, there are several requirements to a valid panel of physicians.  First, there must be at least six doctors or professional associations or corporations of physicians.
Among those six or more, there must be at least one orthopedic physician, at least one minority physician, and no more than two industrial clinics.

How Can I Pick My Own Doctor?

Even though Georgia law gives injured workers the right to pick their doctor off the employer’s panel of physicians, many injured workers are sent directly to these doctors without getting offered a selection.

Many people have questions about the doctors to whom their employers send them.Make sure you get a copy of the panel of physicians. It should look like the document below although it will probably be pink instead of white:

Panel of physicians

As you will notice, there are spaces for at least six doctors in the bottom half of the panel.  You need to get a copy or picture of your employer’s panel of physicians to find out the doctors listed.

Why does it matter if a a panel of physicians is valid?

Understanding the rules about workers' compensation doctors can be trickyIf the panel of physicians is valid and properly posted and explained, then the workers’ compensation insurance company can limit an injured workers’ choice of doctors to the doctors on the panel.  However, it is still the injured worker who gets to make the actual choice among those doctors.

So, even in that situation, the employer or insurance company do not actually get to choose the specific doctor who will treat the injury.  You have choice although your choice may be very limited.  Also, there are ways to change doctors.

If the panel of physicians does not meet the requirements listed above, then an injured worker should be able to choose any doctor for treatment of the work injury.  You can choose a doctor even if the doctor is not one of the doctors on the employer’s list. This way, you can make sure that you get the best doctor for treatment of your injury.

Before you choose or change doctors on the panel of physicians, take a look at this article to make sure you do not make a big mistake.  Your workers’ compensation doctor can have a big impact on your case so you want to make sure you have a doctor who will treat you fairly.

What if I have other questions about workers compensation?

Georgia’s workers compensation system can be very confusing.  You have to worry about getting the treatment you need and paying your bills while also worrying about not missing any deadlines that could cause you to lose your right to receive workers compensation benefits.

If you have questions, I would recommend that you try to get answers.  To find out more about how to schedule a time to talk to me about your workers compensation questions, just read this short article.

Jason Perkins is an attorney who specializes in representing injured workers.  He regularly publishes videos and write blog articles about Georgia’s workers compensation system and issues that are important to injured workers and their families.

To be notified of Jason’s new workers compensation videos, subscribe to his Georgia Workers Compensation Video Series channel on YouTube by clicking the subscribe button below.

It took me probably too long to finally get a lawyer when my work comp claim started and I had no idea what I should do. I read reviews and upon recommendation of several people started the process of getting a lawyer. I am fortunate and lucky to have come across Perkins Studdard. Jason and his team has taken care of me since the moment I first called them and made sure any and all questions I had were answered as well as working hard to get me my settlement so I can continue receiving treatment. If you're looking for a good law firm to represent you in your worker's compensation case I would highly highly recommend this one.Autumn Fields
I highly recommend Perkins Law Firm. Throughout the whole process Perkins team kept me updated and explained everything very well. I am very pleased with their work. You will not be disappointed!!trina flornce
Mr. Perkins and team...Tina* they have all been so awesome. Always available to talk to me with any concerns. Kept me informed on my case all the way. Greatly appreciated!Missy Cherry
Amazing! Jason and his team were very helpful and had the best communication by far. Walked me though every step with great detail and had answers for any question I had. They handled my case better then I could imagine, it was a weird case and they stayed on top of it and kept me updated every step of the way! Highly recommend this Team! Thanks so much to Jason and his Awesome team! -BrittneyBrittney-lee orourke
This law firm is very good at what it does the staff and the lawyer's that were involved with my case all were very perfesional and curious I couldn't ask for a better law firm I want to thank everyone for a great job thanks Les RyanLeslie Ryan
I absolutely love this group of attorneys, when I was at my lowest they did everything they could to help me get justice for my injury. I believe if I were to have never picked my phone up and called the amazing group that helped me I definitely would not have received my idea of rights. If you have an issue and are just not sure please understand that they will help you, stay in contact, answer any question you have, and for sure get you the justice you deserve I thank them from the bottom of my heart and I will definitely refer them to anyone who has been hurt because they most definitely care about their work and clients.China Jones
The entire law office was attentive and responsive to all of my concerns dealing with my workers compensation case.Luv Locs
If you must get a lawyer involved, you’d do well to work with Jason Perkins and his team at Perkins Studdard Law. They were thorough in gathering information and in sharing all the steps in the workers comp process specific to my case. Jason and the team were responsive to my bevy of questions and concerns. I appreciated the informative videos and consultations provided by Jason over video meetings and multiple phone calls. I hope I’m never injured on the job again. However, if I am and if my employer responds as my previous employer did, I’ll contact Perkins Studdard Law immediately to handle the case.moombi
Everyone at Perkins Studdard was kind and professional. They were always extremely responsive and answered all questions that I had and followed up to make sure I had an understanding of what was going on along with emailing videos to explain every step of my case so I would know what to expect and be prepared. Jason is a very genuine person and I trusted him with my case. He answered so many questions for me even before I retained him as my WC lawyer. I highly recommend him and his associates at Perkins Studdard.Dana Bess
Great staff and very knowlegable. They treat you like family and work hard to get you what you need. Highly recommended.Josh Carter

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Jason Perkins

Workers' Compensation Attorney

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