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Who Chooses My Workers Compensation Doctor?

Getting the right medical treatment is very important when you suffer a serious injury.  A very important part of getting the right medical treatment is treating with a very skilled doctor.

Workers compensation should cover your medical treatment when you suffer a serious injury at work. But, who decides which doctor will treat your injury in a workers compensation case?

Male doctor shows female patient xray of spine and backDoes your employer or the workers compensation insurance company get to pick your doctor?

Yes and no.  Neither your employer or the insurance company have the right to pick your doctor.  Despite not having the right to do so, they often do pick your doctor.

That can sound a little confusing.  What it means is that Georgia’s workers compensation law does not give your employer or the workers compensation insurance company the right to choose your doctor.  But, they often pick your doctor even though they do not have the right to do so.

How do they do this? They schedule an appointment and send you to a doctor after you report your injury.  They usually do not ask who you want to go see.  They just decide for you.

If the doctor they send you to says you need to see a specialist like an orthopedic surgeon or a neurologist, the workers compensation insurance company usually does not ask what specialist you want to see.  Instead, they pick the specialist as well.

Can you pick your own doctor?

Yes.  You can pick your own doctor, but there are limits on your choices.  You often have to pick from a list of doctors that has been put together by your employer.  This list is called the panel of physicians.

Georgia’s workers compensation law requires your employer to put together a panel of physicians.  The panel has to have at least six doctors, and there are other requirements about what types of doctors should be on the panel.  The law also requires your employer to post the panel of physicians at prominent places on the business premises.

If your employer follows all the rules about the panel of physicians, then you will probably have to pick your workers compensation doctor off this list.  But, if your employer does not follow the rules, then you may be able to pick any doctor you want.

Being able to pick any doctor you want can be a huge advantage in making sure you see an excellent doctor.  Instead of being limited to a list of six doctors who have been selected by your employer, you will have a much broader choice of which doctor will treat your injury.

Judge writing on paperDoes a workers compensation judge pick your doctor?

Sometimes.  A workers compensation judge does not usually select your initial workers compensation doctor.  But, there are some times where a judge does get to pick your doctor.

This usually happens when there is a hearing or motion filed in your workers compensation case requesting a change of doctors.  This could be requested by you, your workers compensation attorney, your employer, or the workers compensation insurance company.

When a hearing is held or a motion is filed requesting a change of physician, a judge will end up making a decision about whether your current workers compensation doctor will be changed out for a different workers compensation doctor.  The judge could order that your doctor stay the same.  The judge could also order that your doctor should be changed.

Can your workers compensation attorney pick your doctor?

A workers compensation attorney can do several things to help you in picking a doctor.  First, a workers compensation attorney who represents you can give you advice about your rights to select a doctor under Georgia’s workers compensation law.  They can review the panel of physicians and help determine whether you have to select a doctor from the panel of physicians or can pick any doctor you would like.

When you decide on a doctor, an attorney can also file paperwork selecting the workers compensation doctor on your behalf.  In certain situation, this paperwork is a letter to the insurance company.  In other situations, it is a form that has to be filed with the State Board of Workers Compensation.

If you want to try to change your workers compensation doctor, an attorney can advise you about your right to change doctors on the panel of physicians or can file a motion or a hearing to seek to get your doctor changed.

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.

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Jason Perkins

Workers' Compensation Attorney

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