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Getting Workers Compensation Medical Treatment for Foot and Ankle Injuries4 minute read

Getting the right medical treatment after a foot and ankle injury is important.  Ongoing foot and ankle problems make it difficult to work at jobs that require standing, walking, driving, balancing, and climbing.

Getting the right medical treatment may also be difficult.  While there are many doctors who specialize in back, neck, knee, and shoulder injuries, fewer doctors seem to specialize in treatment of the foot and ankle.

Doctor examines patients sprained foot while holding x rayWhat type of doctors treat foot and ankle injuries?

While many different types of doctors will treat foot and ankle injuries, you will probably end up seeing one of two type of specialists if you have a foot or ankle injury.  One type of specialist is an orthopedic specialist.

An orthopedic specialist is a medical doctor who treats the muscoskeletal system.  This means an orthopedist treats bone, tendons, joints, ligaments, muscles, nerves, and skin.

Some orthopedic specialists are generally orthopedics who will treat the muscoskeletal system in any part of your body.  Other orthopedic specialists focus on particular parts of your body.  In worker compensation cases involving severe foot and ankle injuries, my clients often treat with an orthopedist who specializes in treating feet and ankles.

Another type of medical professional who treats foot and ankle injuries is a podiatrist.  Podiatrists specialize in treatment of the feet and ankles as well.  Their training is similar to medical doctors but somewhat different.  They receive a Doctor of Podiatric Medicine (D.P.M.) instead of a Doctor of Medicine (M.D.).

Can I pick my Georgia workers compensation doctor?

Georgia law does allow you to choose a doctor to treat your injury, but your choices probably will be limited.  In most cases, your employer should have a list of workers compensation doctors posted called the “panel of physicians”.

This list should contain the names of at least six different doctors.  At least one of the doctors on the list should be an orthopedic surgeon.

Because the employer is only required to have six doctors on the list, there often will not be a foot and ankle specialist on the list.  This means that you may have to pick a doctor off the list and then have that doctor refer you to a foot and ankle specialist.

Georgia workers compensation law has specific rules about when the insurance company has to pay for referrals to other doctors.  Because you will likely need to get a referral to a foot and ankle specialist, it is very important to understand these rules.

Does workers compensation pay for foot or ankle surgery?

Generally, the workers compensation insurance company has to pay for medical treatment that you need as a result of your injury at work.  This means that they could have to pay for surgery if you need that surgery as a result of your injury.

It is important to understand that the surgery has to be performed by an authorized doctor.  “Authorized” has a special meaning under Georgia’s workers compensation law.  It refers to your authorized treating physician or a doctor to whom your authorized treating physician has referred you.

Are there limits on what medical treatment I can get?

Yes.  Georgia law places several different limits on your medical treatment.  I discuss three of those limits in the sections below:

The medical treatment or testing must be related to your injury

In order to make the insurance company pay for medical treatment, the medical treatment must be related to your injury.  If the doctor says that the need for your medical treatment was not caused by your injury, then it will probably be difficult to get workers compensation to pay for that treatment.

It is possible to get a second opinion about whether your medical treatment is related to your injury.  This second opinion could help you prove that the workers compensation insurance company needs to pay for the medical treatment.

Nurse adjusting walking brace for patient with foot or ankle injuryAn authorized doctor must perform the medical treatment or testing

This generally means that you have to have the treatment performed by your authorized treating physician or someone to whom your authorized treating physician has referred you.  If you have treatment with an unauthorized doctor, the workers compensation insurance company will probably not pay for that treatment.

The medical treatment or testing will probably need to take place within 400 weeks of your injury

This limit applies to cases where the date of injury is after June 30, 2013.  If you were injured before July 1, 2013, you do not have a 400 week limit on your medical treatment.  But, there could still be other deadlines that apply.

If you were injured after June 30, 2013, you need to know about the 400 week limit on medical treatment.  It means that the insurance company does not have to pay for medical treatment that occurs more than 400 weeks after you injury (unless your case is designated catastrophic).

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.

Brittney-lee orourkeBrittney-lee orourke
05:23 18 Feb 22
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!-Brittney
China JonesChina Jones
18:58 08 Feb 22
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.
Luv LocsLuv Locs
16:08 15 Jan 22
The entire law office was attentive and responsive to all of my concerns dealing with my workers compensation case.
moombimoombi
21:14 02 Jan 22
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.
Dana BessDana Bess
23:57 10 Dec 21
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.
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