As I have mentioned in previous blog articles, the Georgia workers’ compensation system provides a few ways to get evaluated by a different doctor. You can change doctors on the panel of physicians, change doctors by agreement, or file a request to change doctors.
In addition to those options, there are also some options that allow you to get evaluated by a doctor without changing doctors. I will talk in more detail about those in this article.
One way of getting another medical evaluation to use O.C.G.A. 34-9-202. An O.C.G.A. 34-9-202 evaluation is often referred to as an IME or “independent medical evaluation”. When you have received weekly workers’ compensation benefits (either temporary total, temporary partial, or permanent partial disability benefits) within the last 120 days, you have a right to be evaluated by a doctor of your choosing. There are a few important things to understand about this evaluation:
- You can only get the insurance company to pay for one 34-9-202 evaluation in your entire case so use it wisely
- The doctor can only evaluate you, not treat you (but you could use the evaluation in a motion to change doctors)
- The doctor can order reasonable and necessary testing in the evaluation (which the insurance company will probably have to pay for if it has not been done before)
A 34-9-202 evaluation can be useful if you do not feel your current treating doctor is helping you get better or you just want another opinion about some recommended medical treatment.
But, there are times when you can get another opinion without using your one time 34-9-202 evaluation. If your authorized treating physician refers you for a second opinion, then the insurance company will have to pay for that referral.
The second opinion will be very similar to the 34-9-202 evaluation, but there are a few important differences:
- You must have a referral from your authorized treating physician to get a second opinion evaluation
- Your doctor (not you) generally chooses the doctor for the second opinion
- The insurance company will not have to pay for recommended testing by the second opinion doctor unless your authorized treating physician agrees with the tests that are recommended and sends you for those tests
Paying for the Evaluation Yourself
A final way to get evaluated by another doctor is to just pay yourself. While this gives you the freedom to see any doctor you want, it is obviously difficult to do.
Medical treatment is expensive. But, if you have the money and want to pay for an evaluation yourself, you can certainly do that. If our firm represents you in your case, we will often pay for a medical evaluation if it is needed to help prove your case.
Getting proper medical treatment is critical to recover from your injury. If you have any questions about medical treatment or anything else involving your workers’ compensation case, I would be happy to provide you with a free consultation.
If you are ready to set up a free consultation, it is easy to do. Just call our office at (770) 214-8885 or complete and submit our free consultation request form.
Jason Perkins is an attorney who specializes in representing injured workers. He regularly blogs about Georgia’s workers’ compensation system and issues that are important to injured workers and their families.
You can subscribe to his Georgia Workers Compensation channel on YouTube.