You suffered an unexpected injury while on the job that left you unable to work for a time while you heal. You went through the proper procedure of notifying your employer of the injury and filing for workers’ compensation benefits. Now, after a few doctor’s visits, you feel like the doctor that your employer sent you to is not being very helpful. What can you do?
How doctors can provide substandard care
It is unfortunate that, in many cases, injured workers do not have the option of choosing their own doctor to treat their work injuries. Instead, their employer’s workers’ compensation insurance company often mandates the doctor that they must see in order to qualify to receive benefits. If you did not get your doctor pre-approved by your employer prior to your accident, you may not be able to use them.
Sometimes doctors will decide that an injured worker has recovered sufficiently to be able to return to work. Once this happens, the benefits cease, and the worker has to return to work even if they still feel unfit to perform their job duties.
What you can do about it
Under California law, workers’ compensation insurance companies must establish a network of providers for medical care. Even if your employer makes you see a certain doctor for your initial visit, if you are not satisfied with their methods, you can request a second and even a third opinion from different doctors within the network. In some circumstances you might be able to get a doctor authorized who is not in the network.
Thus, if you feel that your initial doctor has not done enough to help you recover for you injury, and they are trying to send you home before they should, you have the right to request a second opinion from a different doctor. The other doctor may not agree that you are fit to work, and may suggest that you continue to receive workers’ compensation benefits for longer while you heal.
It can be devastating to get the news that your employer expects you back at work before you feel ready. With proactive measures, you may be able to extend your recovery time enough to fully heal from the trauma of your workplace accident.