When you're recovering from a workplace injury, having a doctor you trust is essential. For this reason, Louisiana's workers' compensation law allows injured workers flexibility in selecting a healthcare provider to oversee their treatment.
Choosing a Doctor to Treat Your Workplace Injury
Every state has different rules regarding the choice of doctors for treating a workplace injury. For minor injuries, Louisiana workers' compensation law allows you to choose your own treating doctor and to switch from one specialty to another without needing prior approval from your employer or insurer. This means that you could seek initial care from your regular family doctor and be referred to a specialist without needing approval.
If your injuries are expected to exceed $750 of care, however, your doctor must obtain approval from the workers' compensation insurer to continue treatment unless the treatment is classified as a medical emergency. The insurer is not allowed to withhold consent for treatment without probable cause such as a dispute over whether your injuries are actually work related.
If you receive bills for your medical care related to a workplace injury, they should be forwarded to your employer or your employer's workers' compensation insurer. Do not submit medical bills directly to the Louisiana Office of Workers' Compensation Administration, as this will only delay payment of the claim.
Receiving Initial Care From Your Employer’s Doctor
Some larger employers have a doctor on call to treat injured workers. If you received initial medical care from your employer's doctor, you do not have to continue treatment with this provider. The law allows you to switch to your own doctor, if desired.
Your employer may also provide you with a list of approved doctors to choose from before you begin medical treatment. These doctors will have an established relationship with the insurer and experience in treating the most common workplace injuries. You may choose to see a healthcare provider on this list for your own convenience, but you are not legally required to do so.
If Your Request to Choose Your Own Doctor Is Denied
If your employer denies your request to choose your own doctor to handle your workplace injury, you will want to have your attorney request a hearing before a workers' compensation judge to resolve the issue.
If you are unhappy with the quality of care you received from your first-choice provider, you must obtain prior approval from the workers' compensation insurer before switching to another doctor in the same specialty. No approval is needed if the second doctor practices in a different specialty.
Medical Examinations Requested by Your Employer
Your employer has the option to request that you be examined by a doctor chosen by the company. If you fail to agree to this exam, your payments may be temporarily suspended.
If your doctor and your employer's doctor don't agree regarding the severity of your condition or the proper course of treatment, you may be entitled to an Independent Medical Examination (IME). An IME can be requested by completing Form LWC-WC 1015 and forwarding it to the Medical Services Section of the Office of Workers' Compensation Administration.
Neblett, Beard & Arsenault Can Help
Workers' compensation law can be quite complex, and the process of settling your claim can seem overwhelming when you're focused on recovering from your work-related injury. Retaining an experienced workers' compensation attorney to advocate on your behalf can ensure that your case is resolved promptly and that you receive the maximum possible benefits under the law.
If you do not retain an attorney, the workers’ compensation insurance adjuster is typically the party who is making decisions and administering the claim. Since the insurance adjuster’s loyalty is to his employer, these decisions may not truly be in your best interest.
Neblett, Beard & Arsenault’s legal team is committed to helping Louisiana residents who've sustained on-the-job injuries resolve their workers' compensation claims. Contact us today to schedule a free, no-obligation case review.