After you have been injured on the job, especially if your injury is serious, it is likely that your first objective may be to seek prompt medical attention to care for your injury. The question on many injured workers’ minds is: Can I choose my own doctor?
Injured workers are often given manipulative or misleading information about their rights, and some may be persuaded that they should stick with company-affiliated doctors. This is simply inaccurate. In fact it is in your best interest to select your own doctor for evaluation and treatment.
You can choose your own doctor, with some limits
A workplace or job site injury can be overwhelming and may leave you feeling vulnerable, both personally and physically. This feeling can worsen if your employer or their insurance company tries to convince you that you should see their doctor, rather than one of your own choosing. In some instances, company doctors will try to minimize the seriousness of your injury, associate your injury with a pre-existing condition or otherwise provide less than ideal care.
It is important to remember that while your employer may try to persuade you to seek medical treatment based on their advice, you have no obligation to do so. Under FECA, the Federal Employees’ Compensation Act, you have the right to pursue initial medical treatment with a provider of your choice. While your employer may be lead you to believe otherwise, the company does not have to sign off on your choice of doctor before your first appointment for medical care.
After initial medical treatment (this includes emergency care), you may need to use a healthcare provides linked to your company networks. However, you have the right to select any doctor of your choosing from this approved network.
Seeking medical and legal assistance
In the immediate aftermath of a workplace injury, you have a right to protect yourself and begin the recovery process with a doctor you know and trust. Similarly, you have every right to select your own lawyer; a skilled personal injury attorney can help you protect and advocate for your right to medical treatment and will work to ensure that you are not misled or manipulated by employers or insurance company representatives. Legal counsel will also provide support when you seek to file a worker’s compensation claim.