Employees who get hurt at work are entitled to compensation. If you’ve sustained an injury while on the job, your employer should help pay for the cost of your treatment. In order to receive the compensation you deserve, you need a doctor to verify that your work was the cause of your injury.
Getting a doctor to confirm your story should be easy. Unfortunately, injured workers sometimes encounter doctors who seem reluctant to provide this confirmation. If the workers’ comp doctor you see claims that your injury wasn’t work-related, this can make winning your case more complicated. However, you can still advocate for yourself and get the compensation you’re rightfully entitled to.
Keep reading to learn more about workers’ comp doctors and how to navigate the medical and legal processes and fight for your interests.
The Role of Workers’ Comp Doctors in Your Case
In addition to your testimony and that of any witnesses to your injury, doctors play an extremely important part in worker’s compensation cases. Doctors are the ones to determine the official medical diagnosis, decide what your work restrictions should be, and ascertain your level of disability.
Are You Allowed to Choose Your Doctor?
In Oregon, workers who get injured on the job are entitled to go to their regular healthcare provider or another doctor of their choice. If you sustain a work-related injury and require immediate care, you can choose to go to your regular doctor, an urgent care clinic, or a hospital or emergency room, depending on the type of attention your injury requires.
If your claim is enrolled in a managed care organization (MCO), you can still choose your own doctor within the MCO. You’re also entitled to change doctors at least 3 times if you’re not satisfied with the one you have.
Once you have filed a workers’ comp claim, you may be required to attend an independent medical examination (IME). An IME is a mandatory medical exam, scheduled and paid for by your insurer, with a doctor who is authorized by the Department of Consumer and Business Services. The insurer can only require you to attend three IMEs in an open period of a claim, and invasive procedures cannot be performed without your consent.
What You Can Do to Fight For Your Rights
When it comes to dealing with workers’ comp doctors, establishing a record of your side of the story is extremely important. Here are some steps you can take when choosing a doctor and seeking treatment to give yourself the best chance of winning your workers’ comp case:
Find a Doctor Who Will Advocate For You
It’s important to choose a doctor who will not only treat your injuries but also advocate on your behalf in your workers’ comp case. That’s because the medical findings and opinions of your treating physician are perhaps the most critical elements in proving your workers’ comp claim.
If you have a good relationship with your regular doctor, it’s often a good idea to see them first. If you don’t have a current doctor or you want to choose a new one to treat your injury and help you prove your injury was caused by your work, an Oregon workers’ comp attorney will likely be able to point you in the right direction when looking for a doctor.
Immediately Inform Your Treating Physician That the Injury Is Work-Related
It’s important to know what to say as well as what not to say to a workers’ comp doctor. Don’t wait until you decide to file a workers’ comp claim to tell your doctor that you got injured while at work. Don’t say you think your injury was caused by work. See a doctor as soon as possible following your injury and tell them exactly how, where, and when you were injured and that your injury was the direct cause of your job.
Make sure every piece of communication you have with your employer and your doctor is documented in some way or another. In many cases, this may be as simple as texting your boss rather than calling them or sending an email to confirm the content of a conversation you previously had in person.
Having a written record of what happened and when only helps your case. Your workers’ comp lawyer can use this to prove your side of the story in court to ensure you get the compensation you deserve.
Follow All Your Doctor’s Orders
If your treating physician gives you medical directions, it’s important to follow them as closely as possible. Any orders you receive from your doctor should be documented in writing. Ask your provider to give you a list of any and all work-related activities that they advise you not to engage in until you’re fully recovered. Keep a copy of this list for yourself and provide an exact copy to your employer so they’re aware of your doctor’s orders.
Ignoring doctors’ orders can seriously hurt your workers’ comp case. The insurance company may argue that you didn’t take your injury seriously and that you made the choice to remain injured by not following the advice of a doctor.
How We Can Help: Experienced & Compassionate Oregon Workers’ Comp Attorneys
If you’ve been injured on the job, you might feel alone and afraid for your health, your ability to work, and your ability to pay for your treatment. Unfortunately, employers and insurance companies sometimes don’t do the right thing and try to deny workers the benefits they rightfully deserve.
At Ransom, Gilbertson, Martin, and Ratliff, LLP, we know how frustrating and difficult this process can be, especially when you’re already dealing with an injury. We have over 70 years of combined experience fighting for the rights of injured Oregon employees in workers’ comp cases. We’re here to offer you our compassion and expert representation as you fight to win your case.
We offer free consultations and won’t charge you anything unless we win your case! Contact us today to get the representation you deserve.