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May I choose my own doctor when receiving workers’ compensation?

On Behalf of Christian Ayers
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Most employees in North Carolina are covered by workers’ compensation insurance for workplace injuries and work-related occupational disease. Workers’ compensation benefits for medical expenses, lost wages and disability are payable without the necessity of a lawsuit against an employer. One of the tradeoffs associated with workers’ compensation is limitations it places on your choice of medical provider.

A worker injured in a workplace accident or through an occupational disease must notify the employer of the claim. The workers’ compensation insurance company or the employer has the right to tell you which health care provider to go to for medical care. They also may direct the type and duration of treatment provided to you.

If you are unhappy or dissatisfied with the doctor you are told to use or by the decisions your employer or its insurance company make, you may request assistance from the North Carolina Industrial Commission. The Industrial Commission oversees workers’ compensation, and it has the authority to review the situation and, if good cause is shown, authorize treatment by another doctor chosen by the injured worker.

Changing doctors on your own without permission from the Commission is risky. If your employer or its insurance carrier objects, you may not receive payment for the medical expenses you incur.

Your right to seek treatment from a chiropractor for workplace injuries is subject to your employer and its insurance company granting permission. Even if permission for chiropractic treatment is approved, the initial approval is for up to 20 visits provided they are shown to be medically justifiable. Chiropractic treatment beyond the first 20 visits requires an employer’s authorization.

Receiving medical care for a workplace injury involves strict rules and procedures. Failing to follow them could lead to a loss of workers’ compensation benefits. This post is an overview of this topic, but it is not offered as legal advice upon which you should rely. Legal advice should only be obtained from a Charlotte workers’ compensation lawyer.