The law in Oklahoma gives employers the right to choose the physician that treats your work-related injuries. This may not seem significant to workers at first, but the treating physician actually plays a very important role in your workers’ compensation case. Here’s what injured workers need to know:
Diagnosing Your Condition
You cannot obtain workers’ compensation benefits unless you have been diagnosed with a work-related injury or illness. Your treating physician is the medical professional who will perform diagnostic tests, review your symptoms, and conduct a physical exam in order to diagnose your condition. As a result, this physician could impact your eligibility for workers’ compensation benefits.
Determining Your Ability to Work
Your treating physician will also determine if you are capable of working while you recover from your injuries, which could have a major impact on your workers’ compensation case.
For example, say you are a warehouse worker who suffers a work-related muscle strain in your lower back. Your doctor must decide if this injury affects your ability to perform your job duties, one of which is lifting heavy boxes. If your doctor does not think this injury will affect your ability to work, you will be required to return to work and you will not receive temporary disability benefits.
If your doctor believes the injury will affect your ability to work, you will qualify for temporary disability benefits. You will also not be required to return to work until your doctor says it is ok to do so. This example illustrates the importance of the doctor’s decisions at this stage in the workers’ compensation claim process.
Identifying Permanent Disabilities
Your doctor is also responsible for evaluating your level of permanent disability once you have reached the stage of maximum medical improvement. The results of this evaluation will determine whether or not you qualify for permanent disability benefits, and if so, what type and how much.
It’s also important to note that your treating physician is not the only medical professional who can rate your injury. As an injured worker, you have the right to select the physician who rates your injury. This means you can choose whether or not you want your treating physician to take on this responsibility.
Furthermore, if you disagree with your treating physician’s rating, you can dispute it with the help of an attorney.
Documenting Your Recovery
The doctor that treats you will also provide evidence that can be used in disputes with the insurance company. Doctors should take notes and carefully document each interaction with their patients so there is a detailed record of the patient’s recovery. These records can help you prove your case to the insurance company and obtain the benefits you deserve.
If you are unhappy with your treating physician, you have the right to request a new physician. It’s best to ask an attorney to guide you through the process of changing physicians.
Having the right attorney by your side can also impact the outcome of your workers’ compensation case. If you’ve suffered a work-related injury, contact the experienced attorneys at Armstrong & Vaught, P.L.C. as soon as possible. Call us at (918) 582-2500 or toll-free at (800) 722-8880 or complete the simple form below for a free consultation with a skilled attorney.