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Can you pick your own workers’ comp doctor in North Carolina?

On Behalf of | Apr 7, 2023 | Workers' Compensation

Among other things, workers’ compensation provides important medical benefits for injured workers.

Unfortunately, exercising your rights to the care you need isn’t always a straightforward process, however. It often surprises injured workers that their employer actually gets to dictate what doctor they see. In an emergency situation, you can seek immediate care wherever necessary, but you otherwise need to see your employer’s on-site doctor or their designated health care office.

What if you don’t trust the medical provider you’re seeing?

You may suspect that the doctor you’re seeing is more concerned about making your employer happy than your actual care – and you could be right.

Doctors who make their living on a company’s dime may have some hidden biases that influence how they rate the severity of an injury, what restrictions they think an injured worker should have and when they allow an injured worker to return to duty.

If you don’t think that your workers’ comp physician is giving you proper care, you do have some recourse:

  • You can request a second opinion. You have to make your request in writing, and your employer has 14 days to either agree to the request or deny it.
  • You can request the Industrial Commission’s intervention. If your employer denies your request for a second opinion, you can petition the Industrial Commission to grant your request. This is a one-time visit and no guarantee that the doctor will become your approved physician but it can be the first step in the right direction.
  • You can ask the Industrial Commission to let you use the doctor you prefer. This could be a doctor wholly of your own choosing or the doctor you used for your second opinion, but the burden is on you to show why the change is appropriate. (This is why a second opinion can help.)

When your workers’ compensation claim isn’t going as you’d hoped, it’s always best to learn more about your legal options.

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