Under Arkansas Law, the insurance company in a workers’ compensation claim has the right to direct an injured employee’s initial medical care. Often times, this means that an injured worker will be sent to a “company doctor” who is familiar to both the insurance carrier and employer. If the injured worker needs a referral to a specialist, the insurance company might tell the company doctor where to send a claimant for further evaluation. Under this scenario, it may not take very long at all for a work injury claim to become so overloaded with insurance-friendly physicians that it completely sinks the entire case, before the claimant even knows what happened.
Thankfully, our Workers’ Compensation Act allows an injured worker to ask for a one-time change of physician, to a doctor he or she wants to see, at basically any point during the claim. The problem is that the insurance company may only have to pay for one office visit to the new doctor, unless the new physician provides the parties with some pretty compelling medical opinions to advance the evidence in the claim. Because of this, knowing exactly when and how to use a physician change may be extremely important to the outcome of the claim. If, for example, an uninformed claimant asks for a physician change at an unwise juncture in the case, to a doctor who thinks most folks alleging work injuries are scam artists, the physician change may have just been completely wasted, or worse.
Have questions about a physician change? Give us a call. We’re always here to help.
Neal L. Hart, Attorney at Law