Attorney Morring: Can I Choose My Own Doctor?

By far the most common question that I and my staff face on a daily basis is whether you can choose your own doctor after you are injured on the job. If you are injured at work, you should seek medical treatment immediately. But what if you need further treatment beyond emergency care? What if you need specialized care? Do you have to treat with the company doctor?

The answer is as complex as the questions above. It simply depends.

Where and When You Were Injured

First, it depends upon the jurisdiction in which you were injured. Jurisdiction relates to the place where your injury occurred. This is important because injuries which occur on a port or shipyard could qualify as Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act or Defense Base Act injuries. Injuries which occur for an employer within the states of Virginia or North Carolina could qualify as injuries under their respective workers' compensation acts.

Easy right? Well, not so fast. Jurisdiction also could vary depending what year the injury happened, whether concurrent jurisdiction exists, and whether the injury qualifies as a compensable under the Acts.

So what’s the bottom line: it's complicated. Where you were injured, when you were injured, and other factors determine which Acts apply. And which Acts apply determines whether you can choose your own doctor. If you are injured under the Longshore and Harbor Workers Compensation Act or the Defense Base Act, then Section 7 of the Longshore and Harbor Workers Compensation Act relates to your own choice of physician. Otherwise, if you have a state workers’ compensation case, you should follow the law relating to choice of physician. Each state is different as it relates to choice of physician laws.

Choosing a Doctor After a Work Injury

Choosing the right doctor is often the foremost important decision an injured worker can make. If you have the right to choose a physician, then choose wisely. Ask a friend, neighbor or co-worker who they would recommend and who they trust. If you have to choose from a panel of physicians, the same applies. Research the doctors and make sure you are making informed decisions.

Still not sure if you have the right to choose your own doctor? Call the Law Firm of Charlene A. Morring, PC and we will be more than happy to discuss your options with you.