Can You Change Doctors After Filing a Workers’ Comp Claim?
After a work injury in Georgia, you have the right to choose your treating doctor from a list provided by your employer and/or its workers’ compensation insurance carrier. The diagnosis and treatment plan provided by this medical professional can affect your eligibility for benefits and the duration of the benefits you receive.
However, what if you disagree with your workers’ compensation doctor’s diagnosis or treatment plan?
The experienced Savannah workers’ compensation lawyers at Roden Law explain how you can ask for a different authorized treating physician (ATP).
If you are currently pursuing a workers' compensation claim, we are prepared to review the specifics of your situation and discuss your legal options in a free, no-obligation consultation. We invite you to contact our office to learn more about how we may be able to help you obtain workers’ compensation benefits.
Who Chooses the Authorized Treating Physician?
In Georgia, your employer is required to provide you with an ATP. There are a couple of ways this can happen:
- Your employer will supply you with a panel of six physicians, and you can select a doctor from this list. However, some employers do not properly follow this process and may suggest one specific physician for your medical care. It is important to insist that you be given the right to view and select your ATP from the full list. If your employer is pressuring you to see a specific doctor, you may not be getting a physician who will provide you with a non-biased assessment of your condition. If you agree to see the doctor your employer suggests, that doctor becomes your authorized treating physician.
- If your employer carries workers compensation through a contract with a managed care organization (WC/MCO), you will need to check with your employer and carrier to find out what their specific rules are for getting medical treatment.
- In a situation where there is no panel of doctors or contracted rules, you may be able to select your own doctor.
Once you have an ATP, you are responsible for following that treating physician’s recommended plan of care to ensure you continue to receive your benefits.
What Happens if You Need, or Want, to Change Doctors?
During the course of your medical treatment, the doctor may reach conclusions you do not agree with. Fortunately, under Georgia law, you have the right to make one request to switch doctors without having to get further approval from the BWC.
If the first doctor you selected was from your employer’s panel of physicians, you must select another doctor from that list. However, if you were able to choose your own ATP, you may again switch to another physician outside of that panel.
After changing your treating physician once, you will need to notify the insurance company first before making any further changes to your ATP. If your workers' compensation provider disagrees with your request, you must submit Form WC-200b and provide a copy both to your employer and the workers’ compensation insurance carrier.
Your employer may also request a change of treating doctor, but you can object to this if you are not in agreement. Additionally, if it becomes necessary, either you or the insurance company may request a hearing to settle the dispute.
Important Things to Remember During Your Medical Treatment
After you report your work-related injury, your employer is on notice of your intent to pursue workers’ compensation benefits. Your employer or its insurance carrier may look for any reason to deny your claim. This is why it is important to complete the following steps during your medical treatment:
- Be specific without rambling - Describe only the facts about how the injury occurred, along with the resulting symptoms you have been experiencing.
- Be consistent - Be sure that your report to your employer, your doctor and any others is the same.
- Be honest - Do not try to hide a pre-existing injury. However, if you were not experiencing any symptoms from this pre-existing injury, it is important to tell your ATP
- Be prepared for an Independent Medical Examination (IME) - If you are asked to submit to an IME, you will closely be scrutinized from the minute you arrive to the time you leave.
- Keep track of all records - This includes copies of all of your medical evidence, prescriptions, treatment and any other records pertaining to your injury.
Schedule a Free Consultation with a Trusted Lawyer
Our experienced attorneys at Roden Law understand the weight an ATP carries in a workers' compensation case. We have helped many injured workers recover compensation and know how to protect your best interests through every step of the process.
We offer a free review of your potential claim, answers to your questions about the workers' compensation process and the opportunity to discuss your legal options. You are not required to hire us after this consultation, but if we do represent you, it is worth mentioning that we do not charge any up-front attorney fees. In fact, we will not charge you anything unless we are successful in obtaining benefits on your behalf.
Contact us today to schedule a free, no obligation consultation.