In North Carolina, the Workers’ Compensation Act limits the choice of doctor for injured workers. Your employer or its insurer determines where you must get medical treatment for your workers’ compensation claim. They could offer you only one or two options for a medical care provider following a workplace injury or illness.
According to the North Carolina Industrial Commission, the employer or its workers’ comp insurance company “provides and directs” the medical diagnosis, treatment, and follow-up care for employees. Therefore, seeing the doctor they recommend is the only way to ensure they will pay the bills related to your treatment and care.
How Do I Know Which Doctor to See After a Workplace Injury in North Carolina?
When you sustain an injury while on the job in North Carolina, and you qualify for workers’ compensation benefits, you will need to see the doctor selected by:
- Your employer
- The workers’ compensation insurance company
Who chooses the physician depends on the company and the plan. In either case, you may need to ask your company’s human resources officer, supervisor, or the workers’ compensation administrator who you should see before making an appointment about a possible work-related injury or illness. You may also find a list of approved providers in your employee handbook or posted in an area with other important employee notices, such as near the time clock.
Sometimes, you will have a list of physicians to choose from or a specific clinic or hospital. Large companies could even have an on-staff doctor who handles the assessment and treatment of on-the-job injuries.
How Important Is It to Trust the Doctor Assigned By My Employer?
While you may have no choice in the doctor you see – and you may not even like them – it is imperative that you:
- Follow their orders
- Take any medications they prescribe
- Complete any assigned physical therapy
- Attend all follow-up appointments
Failing to do so could mean the workers’ compensation insurer refuses to pay for your care or continue wage loss benefits.
If you experience a problem with the doctor, you could file a request to change doctors or get a second opinion. However, you must carefully follow the rules to do so. Speaking with a North Carolina workers’ compensation attorney with our firm about this step before you begin the process may be a good idea.
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Are There Exceptions to the Rules Regarding Where I Must Get Medical Treatment for My Workers’ Compensation Claim?
A few exceptions exist, but you need to be careful when navigating any of them. They could trigger the insurer to deny your claim or cause other issues with your benefits.
Emergency Medical Care
If your injuries were severe and required emergency medical care, your best option for care likely involved going to the nearest emergency department. However, it is best if your employer approved this treatment before you left the scene or received notification as soon as possible about it.
If it refuses to approve the emergency treatment after the fact, you could petition the North Carolina Industrial Commission for authorization and payment.
Getting a Second Opinion About Your Disability Rating
If you received a permanent disability rating and disagree – or you believe you have lasting impairments your workers’ compensation doctor ignored – the North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Act gives you the right to choose a doctor to examine you and provide a second opinion about your prognosis and recovery.
Independent Medical Exams (IME)
In some cases, the insurance company or your employer may ask for an independent medical exam. In addition, an injured worker who does not agree to this request could lose their benefits. Therefore, you might want to speak with an attorney with this firm if you receive such a request.
Under certain circumstances, an injured worker could also request an IME. This request commonly occurs when the workers’ compensation doctor releases an employee from their care, but the worker still has symptoms that make it difficult to work or manage daily tasks at home.
Speak With a North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Attorney for Free Today
If you suffered injuries in an on-the-job incident or contracted a workplace illness in North Carolina, an attorney from Farmer & Morris Law, PLLC, could help you secure the workers’ compensation benefits you need and deserve. We provide free consultations for injured workers. Let us review your incident and injuries for free today. We are a contingency fee legal firm and never charge any upfront fees.
Call Farmer & Morris Law, PLLC, today at (828) 286-3866 to get started with your free legal assessment.