Am I Required to Follow My Doctor's Orders after a Workplace Injury?

After being injured while at work, it is important that the injured employee seek medical attention for any injuries sustained. However, what happens if the injured employee does not agree with the doctor’s orders?

Will his or her inability to cooperate affect the employee’s ability to file a claim for workers’ compensation? We have asked attorney, Alaina Sullivan, and here is what she had to say:

Seeking Medical Attention Following the Injury

When the employee is first injured, he or she is allowed to receive treatment from any doctor of his or her choice, including emergency room visits. The doctor who sees the employee after the injury will send a report to the workers’ compensation claims administrator about the employee’s medical condition.

This document is important in that it gives information to the employer and insurance provider about whether the employee is able to work following the injury. The report will need to detail any limits the employee has on what tasks he or she can do following the injury.

Not Understanding the Worker’s Job Duties

It happens every now and then that the doctor does not fully comprehend the job duties of the injured employee, so it can be hard for the doctor to make an official recommendation on whether the employee can continue his or her duties following the injury.

It is important that the injured employee accurately communicates the work he or she did before the injury, the medical condition and the type of work he or she can do now and the kind of work that the employer could make available to the employee following the injury.

Ongoing Medical Treatment

States vary on this part of the process, but employees are required to receive ongoing treatment if it is part of the recommendation initially received. Most states have rules regarding who can be the doctor treating the employee, such as requiring that the attending doctor be an M.D. or D.O.

Many require the doctor be chosen from a list of specific providers while some allow employee to choose freely. However, one of the most important factors for the employee to realize is that he or she needs a treating physician who will be treating him or her for the employee’s industrial conditions to be allowed to receive compensation for medical bills.

Otherwise, the employee’s medical records may not be admissible as evidence. It is important the employee keeps detailed records of what the doctor does for him or her.

Should I Follow My Doctor's Orders after a Workplace Injury?

Does My Employer Have to Follow Doctor’s Orders?

If your employer is asking you to come back to work against your doctor’s orders, it may be bad for both your health and recovering of benefits in the future. If your doctor says you are unable to return to work, or if your doctor puts you on light duty, your employer cannot fire you for not returning to work when it is against your doctor’s orders.

If you are injured while on the job, you will pursue a workers’ compensation claim. Workers’ compensation will cover the cost of your medical care. Your physician will provide you with documentation that says when you can return to work, if you are unable to work, or what you are able to do when you do return to work.

Your physician orders will be considered when you are reaching a settlement for your workers’ compensation claim. What the doctor says about your injuries and your abilities determines the outcome of your claim and the value of your case. If you do not follow your doctor’s orders, it will be used against you. Even if your employer insists that you return to work, you will need to stay firm and say you are going to adhere to the physician orders.

A workers’ compensation attorney can help you with the process and will help you stand firm with your employer while following physician orders. Your employer cannot retaliate against you for you sticking with the physician’s orders. Talk with your attorney if your employer is wanting you to go against doctor’s orders.

Not Following Doctor’s Orders

One major part of workers’ compensation insurance is that it is assumed the employee is going to follow the given treatment plan in order to recover from injuries and get back to work. What happens when the employee does not agree with the orders given by the doctor?

In these situations, the employee could potentially get a second opinion and change treating physicians. Another option would be for the employee to not follow the treatment requested.

However, the insurance company would, at this point, have grounds to dispute the need for payment of medical treatment if the employee is not going to fully be taking advantage of the treatment needed.

Changing Treating Physicians

In most states, the patient is allowed to change his or her attending physician at least once if the employee is not satisfied with the care being provided. However, some states do restrict how many times doctors can be changed without prior approval.

It is recommended the employee at least consult with his or her employer or the workers’ compensation insurance provider before making any rash decisions.

Seeking a Second Opinion

If the injured employee does not believe that that the doctor is truly addressing his or her medical issues, a second opinion can be sought. Most workers’ compensation insurance providers allow an injured employee to get a second opinion from another doctor included on their list of approved providers.

This second opinion is not a requirement, however, but it can be helpful if the employee believes the primary doctor is not fully addressing the medical issues sustained as a result of the injury. It can also help if the employee wants to get a second opinion to help support his or her claim.

Getting a second opinion does come at a risk. It does open the door for a second non-supportive opinion that could further hurt the employee’s claim.

Contact an Attorney Today

If you are in the process of pursuing workers’ compensation and have questions about whether you are required to follow doctor’s orders to qualify for your benefits, a workers’ compensation attorney can help review your case and discuss your options.

An attorney can listen to the facts of the case and can best advise you on how to proceed. Contact an attorney experienced in workers’ compensation law to schedule a consultation today.

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