If you’ve been injured at work, you know navigating the complicated workers’ compensation process can sometimes be worse than the physical pain. Going to a doctor is enough to cause stress for some people, but in a workers’ compensation case, you’ll likely be seeing multiple doctors—and seeing those doctors numerous times.
How Do I Choose the Right Doctor for My Workers’ Compensation Case?
The first step in a workers’ compensation case is to be examined by a doctor to find the extent of your injuries. When it comes to which doctor you see, there’s good news: in Louisiana, you can see any physician you want when you file your case. You can choose your regular doctor, or it can be a specialist in a specific field. Even better, you can select your doctor in every affected area. For example, if you need a neurologist, a dermatologist, and a psychiatrist, you can pick a different doctor in each of those specialties.
If you don’t necessarily like the first doctor you see, though, you do need special approval from the insurance company to see another doctor. And that approval may not be granted, so make sure you choose wisely the first time. Most people just use their normal doctor they know and trust for this initial examination.
Can an Insurance Company Make Me See Their Doctor in a Workers’ Compensation Case?
In Louisiana, your employer’s insurance company does have the right to require you to be examined by a doctor of their choosing if you wish to continue with your case. When the insurance company requests a second medical opinion (SMO), you may see this. If the insurance company requests this, you are required to comply. If you choose not to visit this doctor for an examination, it will likely bring a halt to your case.
Of course, with different doctors come different opinions. What happens if the insurance company’s doctor disagrees with your doctor about how bad the injury is or how your treatment should proceed? At that point, you can request an independent examination from an impartial third party. However, you should consult with an experienced workers’ compensation attorney before doing so as there are limits to the types of disputes that an independent examiner is allowed to address and risks associated with making such a request.
To make such a request, a form called “Request for Independent Medical Examination” or Form LWC-WC 1015 must be completed and submit it to the worker’s compensation office. Once that’s received, the Director of the Office of Workers' Compensation or the judge in your case will assign a doctor to conduct an examination.
What Will I Need to Prove for My Workers’ Compensation Case?
Like any lawsuit, the path to success can be complicated. When it comes to workers’ compensation cases specifically, here are the factors you’ll need:
- Proof you were working when the injury occurred
- Evidence of your wages at the time of your injury
- Evidence of your role at work
- Proof of your duties you were doing at work while the injury happened
- Proof your injury was significant enough to cause disability or to impact your ability to work
The first two can be proven with a pay stub and time clock records, and your employer's human resources department can confirm the next two. It’s important to remember that workers’ compensation coverage is “no-fault,” meaning you can be covered even if your own mistake caused the injury. And while your time records can indicate you were supposed to be working at a certain time, things can get a little more complicated if you were injured running a personal errand while at work or while you were at an off-site event.
The final proof, though, can be the most difficult. If you have a potential workers’ compensation case, you’ll probably want to relieve yourself of the hassle of proving your injury was significant enough to cause your disability or to impact your ability to work and trust the process to a legal professional.
Contact Phillip M. Hendry Law
If you have been injured at work, you might not be sure what your next steps should be. Do you know what potential compensation is available? Do you know how to handle any disputes that arise?
It’s ok if you don’t because help is available. Attorney Phillip Hendry has experience on all sides of workers’ compensation cases—as a judge, defense attorney, and plaintiff attorney. That experience gives him the ability to see a case from all sides and lets him guide clients through this complex process with high-quality advice. Call us today at (318) 553-5900 or fill out our convenient online contact form to schedule your consultation.