Am I Allowed to Choose Which Doctor I go to for Injuries Suffered in a Workers' Compensation Accident?
Employers in Florida are required to provide compensation to employees injured on the job in order to cover medical costs and a portion of their lost wages. Under Florida law, a doctor is chosen by either the employer or the insurance company responsible for payment of these claims. However, in some situations, a worker may participate in choosing a doctor for injuries suffered in a workers’ compensation accident. The Jacksonville workers’ compensation lawyers at The Lawrence Law Group help injured employees determine their legal options and assert their rights following a workplace accident. If you need assistance dealing with an employer or insurance company after being injured at work, our attorneys are available to answer questions about your case.Choosing a Doctor for Injuries Suffered in a Workers’ Compensation Accident
Medical care sought after a job-related injury must be pre-authorized by an employer’s insurance carrier, except in emergency situations. Certain medical treatments, such as chiropractic care, are subject to limitations or exclusions in coverage. New or experimental treatment options can also be denied by insurers as unnecessary or unreasonable. Because of these issues, it is advisable to stay within the bounds of the selected medical providers following an injury. An insurance company can also unilaterally decide to transfer your treatment to another doctor if it determines that proper recovery is not taking place.
A few limited exceptions exist under Florida law regarding an employer or insurance company’s right to select or pre-approve an employee’s doctor, which include:
- Workers in need of emergency medical attention for life-threatening injuries.
- An employer’s refusal to refer an employee to a doctor.
- An insurance company’s denial of a worker’s claim.
Additionally, under Florida Statute 440.13, an injured worker can change doctors one time during the duration of a workers’ compensation claim. Once the change occurs, the worker is not permitted to seek out further alternatives later in the process. Given the finality of this change, workers must carefully consider whether they want to switch the medical provider.
The request for a change must be submitted to the insurance company in writing. If the insurance provider fails to assign a new doctor within five days of receiving the request, a worker has the option of choosing the new doctor. If they are given this option, a worker should take into consideration the doctor’s experience as well as their familiarity with workers’ compensation laws and the associated claims. The doctor’s willingness to testify about your injuries and their acceptance of Florida’s fee schedule are important. Since most insurer-appointed doctors tend to provide conservative, cost-cutting treatment, a worker who chooses their doctor could have an advantage in receiving a higher quality of medical care. However, once a change is instituted, the initial doctor is not permitted to provide further treatment. This means that a worker who decides that they prefer the first doctor over the second doctor after all cannot switch back.
Injured workers often need additional medical treatment from a specialist, such as an orthopedic surgeon. These doctors must also be pre-approved by an insurer, in addition to any other types of medical providers like physical therapists. Referrals to these specialists must come from a worker’s primary doctor, and the treatment should be covered by workers’ compensation benefits.Contact a Knowledgeable Workers’ Compensation Attorney in Jacksonville
Workers who sustain job-related injuries need prompt and reliable treatment, which can lead to important decisions that have a long-lasting impact on their health. If you have questions or concerns regarding choosing a doctor for injuries suffered in a workers’ compensation accident, the dedicated injury lawyers at The Lawrence Law Group are available to offer guidance. Our Jacksonville attorneys represent people throughout Duval, Clay, Nassau, Flagler, Putnam, St. Johns, Baker, Brevard, Union, Columbia, Suwannee, Hamilton, Jefferson, Volusia, and Alachua Counties. You can contact us online or call our office at (904) 632-0077 today to schedule a no-cost appointment about your claim.