Getting hurt on the job is bad enough — but finding out that you have very little control over your own medical care afterward may be even worse.
Unfortunately, that’s the reality for injured workers in North Carolina. The workers’ compensation rules give your employer the right to dictate which doctor you can see for your injuries (except for emergencies).
What if you think the doctor you’re given cares more about the company than your health?
Doctors are human, and those who derive most of their income from insurance referrals and workers’ comp claims may be inclined to put workers back on the job before they’re ready.
If you suspect that your doctor is biased (or just inept), you do have a right to request a second opinion about your condition and care from another physician at your employer’s expense. If your employer refuses to agree (or ignores your request for more than 14 days), you can take your request to the Industrial Commission. Unfortunately, there is no guarantee that you will be able to force a referral to the doctor of your choice, but there is a process that usually results in some second opinion.
If the second doctor’s opinion or care meshes better with what you believe should be happening, you can request a transfer of care. To get the approval of the Industrial Commission, however, you need to show that you have a preponderance of evidence that the switch is necessary for your treatment.
What if the employer or their insurance company fights your request?
Frankly, that is more likely to happen than not, so it pays to be prepared to assert your rights. It’s usually wisest to enlist the help of an attorney who understands the nuances of workers’ comp law in North Carolina when you encounter a problem.