My Workers’ Compensation Doctor Has Nothing More to Offer Me and Released Me from Care
After your work injury you received medical treatment from a workers’ compensation doctor. At your last appointment you told the doctor that you have a lot of pain, numbness, and tingling. But the doctor tells you, “I have no more medical treatment to offer you. You will have to live with the pain and symptoms.” What now? Is there anything you can do?
This article explains what you can do when the workers’ comp doctor tells you that you will need to learn to live with your pain and symptoms. Though doctors can’t cure everything, you may be entitled to additional medical treatment and workers’ comp benefits. Please keep reading to learn more, then contact workers’ comp attorney Corey Pollard for a free strategy session. We represent injured and disabled employees across the state in Virginia workers’ compensation matters.
What Type of Release Did You Get From Your Workers’ Comp Doctor?
Whether your temporary total disability benefits will continue after your workers’ comp doctor tells you that he or she has nothing more to offer depends on the type of release you get:
Full Duty Release: If your workers’ comp doctor releases you to full duty, then the workers’ comp insurance company will likely file an Employer’s Application for Hearing to suspend your wage loss benefits. A full duty release means that your workers’ comp doctor thinks that you’re capable of resuming your normal job duties prior to the accident. At this time it may be appropriate to obtain a permanent impairment rating so that you’re awarded permanent partial disability benefits for your work injury.
Light Duty Release: If your doctor has nothing more to offer you, but gives ongoing work restrictions that prevent you from resuming your normal job duties, then the insurance carrier should continue making wage loss payments so long as you’re under an Award Order from the Workers’ Compensation Commission.
Should I Get a Second Medical Opinion if My Workers’ Comp Doctor Releases Me?
After your workers’ comp doctor releases you from care, it’s natural to want to get a second medical opinion if you continue to have pain and other symptoms.
The workers’ compensation insurance carrier must pay for reasonable, necessary, and authorized treatment related to your work injuries. When you do not get medical treatment, the insurance company saves money. You should not be concerned with saving the insurance company money. Instead, your priority should be getting the medical treatment you need to recover from your work injury.
In my experience the insurance company will not offer to pay for a second opinion with a medical doctor unless you’re proactive. But with an attorney’s help you may be able to get the insurance company to pay for the second opinion after the workers’ comp doctor says that he or she has nothing more to offer you for the work injury.
How Do I Get a Second Opinion in My Workers’ Compensation Case?
Ask Your Authorized Treating Physician to Refer You to a Second Opinion Doctor
If your workers’ comp doctor has nothing more to offer you, then ask him or her to refer you to another doctor for a second opinion. If your authorized treating physician refers you for a second opinion, then your employer and its insurance carrier must pay for that referral if you see the second opinion doctor that your workers’ comp doctor selected.
In most cases the insurance company will not have to pay for testing recommended by the second opinion doctor unless your authorized treating physician agrees that you need those tests and signs off on those tests.
Pay for the Second Opinion Yourself
What if your authorized treating physician refuses to refer you for a second medical opinion and the insurance company won’t offer it either? Then you can get an evaluation with another doctor by paying for it yourself, or by using any private health insurance or government-provided insurance coverage you have. By doing so you have the freedom to choose which doctor you want to see.
Of course, the problem with paying for a second opinion yourself is that medical treatment is expensive. If, however, you have the financial means or insurance coverage to do that, then you should. If we represent you, we may pay for a medical evaluation with a doctor of our choosing, someone who we know to be claimant-friendly and helpful in workers’ comp claims.
What Do I Do if the Second Opinion Doctor Offers Medical Treatment that Can Help Me Recover Better from My Work Injuries?
Sometimes getting the second opinion in your workers’ comp case is just the first step. If the second opinion doctor has a treatment plan that he or she thinks can lead to a better recovery from your work injury, then you’ll want the workers’ compensation insurance carrier to pay for that medical treatment plan.
Unfortunately the insurance carrier may do everything it can to prevent you from getting additional treatment, even though a better recovery may reduce the amount of indemnity benefits it has to pay you. Virginia workers’ compensation has specific rules about what doctors the insurance company has to pay.
You have two options to get the insurance company to cover the second opinion doctor’s treatment plan: 1) take the plan back to your treating physician and ask him or her to either execute the plan or refer you to the second opinion doctor permanently or 2) file a change in condition claim with the Workers’ Compensation Commission seeking a change in your authorized treating physician. If you’re successful with this claim, the insurance company will have to pay for treatment given by or at the direction of the second opinion doctor.
Can I Just Choose the Doctor I Want When My Workers’ Comp Doctor Has Nothing to Offer Me?
As with most legal questions, the answer is “maybe.” You may be able to choose the doctor you want if your current workers’ comp physician has released you from care. But the facts of your case – and whether the insurance carrier has denied follow up treatment with your workers’ comp doctor – will determine whether you can choose your own doctor.
Because there is no guarantee that the Workers’ Compensation Commission will force the insurance carrier to pay for treatment with the doctor you choose after being released from the workers’ comp doctor’s care, you should talk with a workers’ comp attorney before you take this route. Otherwise you may have to deal with a large medical bill that is your responsibility, not the insurer’s.
As your attorney, Corey Pollard will guide you through the workers’ comp claims process and make sure things are done properly to try to force the insurance company to have to pay for all medical treatment for your work-related injury.
How Much Will it Cost to Talk to a Workers’ Comp Attorney in Virginia?
If you have questions about a workers’ compensation medical issue, call us today. It will not cost you anything to talk with Corey Pollard. We offer a free strategy session to injured employees and their family members in Virginia.
Let me know if I can help.