You will likely know that if you sustain an injury on the job in California, you have to file a workers’ compensation claim to get the benefits you deserve. However, note that with all of the complicated rules and regulations that often go along with a workers’ compensation case, many questions arise. In most cases, your California employer’s insurance covers medical treatment costs related to your injuries.
The question that most injured workers ask before they sustain an injury is whether they can keep their personal doctor once they have a worker’s comp claim. Did you know that after sustaining an injury on your job, it is likely that you will be referred to either your company doctor or physician or a healthcare professional approved by your California employer’s insurance provider? But can you choose your own doctor? This is an important question. Note that in most US states, an employee who sustains an injury on the job can see their family physician or trusted doctor for treatment. However, it is worth noting that California does things differently.
You should know that most California employers usually set up a formal network of doctors either as a self-insured worker’s comp provider or through their workers comp carrier. This is why if you sustain an injury while working you will only be allowed to see the doctor or physician of their choosing, with a few exceptions.
Do You Have the Right to See Your own Doctor?
If you sustain an injury at your California workplace and need medical attention, usually your initial instinct is to set up an appointment with your primary healthcare physician or any healthcare provider that you are comfortable with.
However, note that this is where you have to take caution since most workers’ comp insurance companies require that you see their physicians or physicians in their network. The rules are tricky when it comes to your rights during this process which is why it is important to hire a good workers comp attorney to help you.
You Can See Your Own Doctor if You Predesignate
To avail the right to see your own doctor after your work injury, you will need to predesignate that doctor. What does this mean? It means that you tell your California employer regarding your preference for a specific doctor before you become injured or file a worker’s comp claim.
You have to do this in writing and at the appointed time on a yearly basis. You cannot designate your preferred healthcare provider or doctor last-minute following a work accident. You have to do it in advance. You have to notify your California employer in writing some details, such as the name, phone number, and address of your personal doctor or a medical group.
Initial Doctor’s Visit
You should know that in most states, you can receive medical treatment or services from any physician or doctor you choose for your initial visit. However, in California, you have to initially see a physician that your employer has chosen if your California employer has created a medical provider network (MPN) for worker’s compensation claims.
Keep in mind that if you are not happy or satisfied with the doctor, your employer has chosen, you may ask your employer to see another doctor but in the medical provider network. This means that you can get a second opinion in that network.
Emergency Medical Treatment
Usually, you can get emergency medical treatment from any doctor following a work-related injury. You will be pleased to know that workers’ compensation in California covers emergency room visits. However, make sure that you inform your healthcare provider or doctor that you sustained an injury at work, so your doctor knows that you’ve a workers’ comp claim. This is because your doctor will likely have to provide documentation of your work injuries.
Changing Treating Physicians
Note that in most states, employees can change their attending physician or doctor if they are not happy or satisfied with the service and care they are receiving. However, in California, you may change physicians only within the network if your California employer has created a medical provider network.
If you’re not satisfied with your new doctor, then you can ask for another change – as many times as you need to. Also, note that if you choose a new doctor, you should make sure that the new treating physician timely completes any documents or necessary forms to document this change in treating doctors. This is important as it ensures that your workers’ comp claim in California continues to be properly administered.
Role of Your Treating Doctor in Your California Workers’ Compensation Claim
There is no doubt that your treating or attending doctor plays an essential role in your California worker’s comp claim. Keep in mind that this physician is fully responsible for your medical treatment and can also authorize time off work. And that is not all; your treating physician will determine your level of disability as well as any work-related restrictions in the future.
Hire a Competent and Experienced Workers’ Compensation Attorney
As you can see, there is a lot of room for error or confusion when filing a workers’ compensation claim in California. To get help with filing, and any potential case that may follow, turn to an experienced and competent California worker’s comp lawyer.
At WEST COAST WC ATTORNEYS, we’ve deep experience and expertise in assisting injured California workers choose the doctor or physician they prefer, rely on, and who can meet all their unique needs. If you are injured on your job, you should call the law office of Brittany Huynh today to learn about your rights.
For a free and informative consultation on your California workers’ comp case, or for help or guidance with choosing the best physician, you can contact us anytime by calling us at 415-218-5634.