Do I have to treat with company doctors?
One of the most common questions after any injury at work concerns your work injury treatment. Are you required to treat with a “company” doctor or can you treat with “your” doctor?
To answer your question of , “do I have to treat with company doctors?” depends on whether your employer has met certain requirements. If the requirements are met, then you may have to treat with their doctors for a period of time, However, if the employer fails to meet those work injury treatment requirements, injured workers are free to treat with whomever they choose.
Your employer has the option of establishing a list of designated healthcare providers for your work injury treatment. This is commonly called the “panel list”. This list can include doctors, urgent care facilities, chiropractors, etc. The list must contain:
- The panel must contain six healthcare providers.
- The list must include the name, address, telephone number and the area of medical specialty of the providers.
- These providers must be geographically accessible.
When an injured worker’s claim is accepted by the Workers’ Compensation Insurance Company, an employee with a work related injury or illness is required to seek work injury treatment with one of the designated providers on the list, in order to have the insurance company pay the medical bill. The employee will then need to treat with a panel doctor for 90 days from the date of the first visit for the treatment for the work injury or illness.The employer may not restrict the employee from switching from switching from one designated provider to another designated provider on the list.
If the employer does not establish a panel list, the injured workers has the right to seek work injury treatment from any healthcare provider. The employee is not required to seek emergency care from the panel list. However, once the emergency condition no longer exists, the injured employee must treat with a panel-listed provider for the remainder of 90 days.
While the Workers’ Compensation Law allow the employer to control medical care in this manner, they can lose control by failing to meet the following regulations:
- The Panel List must be posted in a prominent and readily accessible place at the worksite; such as, the break or first aid room or informational bulletin board.
- The employer must provide written notice to the employee of the employee’s rights and duties under the Workers’ Compensation Act at the time of hire and again at the time immediately after the injury.
- The injured worker should sign a written acknowledgement of having been informed of and understood the notice of employees rights and duties.
Any failure by the employer to provide the notice and have the injured worker sign the acknowledgement relieves the employee from any duty to treat with the panel doctors and the employer remains responsible for any treatment provided to the employee. Be aware that the employee may not refuse to sign an acknowledgement to avoid duties specified in the notice.
Often, insurance companies will threaten the injured worker that they are required to treat with the company doctor no matter what. If the panel list isn’t posted and the acknowledgements were not provided at the time of hire and again the time of the injury, and signed, the insurance company is wrong.
Did we answer your question, “do I have to treat with company doctors?”
Our attorneys have been protecting the rights of injured workers since 1982. We will explain your workers’ compensation rights!Freeburn & Law work injury lawyers are certified as specialists in the practice of workers’ compensation law by the Pennsylvania Bar Association Workers’ Compensation Law Section. In 2012, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court approved the PBA Workers’ Compensation Law Section to certify lawyers in the area of workers’ compensation. Certification was granted to only 141 lawyers in 2013 and only 32 in 2014. Freeburn & Law has two lawyers that have attained this prestigious certification. Having this certification provides assurance that our attorneys are experts in workers’ compensation. Freeburn & Law workers’ compensation lawyers are committed to providing expert legal advice to their clients, making sure that their clients will receive the maximum compensation available under the law.
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