Yes, you can choose your own doctor if you get workers’ compensation coverage under the Longshore & Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (Longshore Act). Is that a good thing? Definitely.
To understand just how good a benefit that is, we will take a close look at the competing interests that are at play when it comes to workers’ compensation. You should be aware that being able to choose your own doctor under a workers’ compensation plan is something that is not very common with various workers’ compensation plans. In addition, we will take a quick peek at some of the requirements behind the Longshore Act’s rule that you can choose your own doctor.
If you have additional questions pertaining to your own personal circumstances after reviewing this article, then we invite you to contact the Longshore & Harbor Worker Compensation Attorneys in Jacksonville, FL – RITE Law. Our number is (904) 500-RITE or you can fill out our contact form online. Remember, we provide a free case evaluation, so call today.
Workers’ Compensation and the Competing Interests Involved.
Like any system or program, workers’ compensation has both advantages and unintended consequences. The benefits of workers’ compensation, in general, are many:
1. Guaranteed immediate care for a workplace injury.
2. Focus on treating the victim first, and then worrying about “paperwork.”
3. Income during an injured employee’s recuperation.
4. No need to prove that an injury was the employer’s fault.
5. Certainty for both employer and employee.
6. Avoids crippling lawsuits.
In sum, most people would argue that having a system of workers’ compensation to handle work-related injuries is a net positive because it removes uncertainty for all interested parties. Injured workers know that they will get medical treatment right away, and employers know that they will not be put out of business by one catastrophic work accident.
That said, sometimes the specter of money gets in the way. Stated differently, the compensation that gets paid to injured workers comes from the insurance company that provided your employer with workers’ compensation insurance, as mandated by the Longshore Act. And, as is the case with all insurance companies, they are normally skeptical of most, if not all, claims.
Of course, on one level you can understand why an insurance company would want to get the necessary facts of a claim to ensure that an employee is not claiming an injury that does not exist. However, as you may have experienced in the past, insurance companies sometimes become fairly strict in forcing injured employees “to jump through hoops” just to get the compensation fairly owed to them.
Workers’ Compensation Plans and Choice of Doctor
The push and pull between an injured employee seeking workers’ compensation, and a workers’ compensation insurance company being reluctant to provide that compensation is played out when it comes to the choice of doctor.
Some jurisdictions allow for the injured worker to pick a doctor of his or her choice. Other jurisdictions require that the insurance company approve, or even select, the doctor who will treat the injured party. Yet, in others, the worker can choose his or her doctor first, but will need permission to change doctors if that need arises.
The Longshore Act, fortunately, allows covered workers to choose their own doctor. That is a good thing because the danger with an insurance company choosing a doctor is the dreaded conflict of interest.
Specifically, it is possible that a doctor who is selected by an insurance company may be conflicted. While that is not always the case, the potential for conflict is very possible. The doctor who may be selected to treat you is being paid by the insurance company. And, as you already know, the insurance company is reluctant to pay for anything but completely valid claims.
Thus, a doctor selected by an insurance company has an incentive to minimize what the insurance company will pay. That could be translated into the use of cheaper pain medication, rather than more expensive rehabilitation services. It could mean the choice not to call for an expensive MRI or CT scan. It could mean opting out of necessary surgery that would be costly, or sending an employee back to work too soon.
The Longshore Act Allows You to Choose Your Own Doctor
Fortunately, the Longshore Act provides that an injured employee can go to the doctor with whom he or she is most comfortable.
You do not have to go through an enrollment program, nor do you need to choose from a network of approved medical providers under the Longshore Act. Further, the Longshore Act has a broad definition of the term “physician” that includes not only MDs and surgeons, but dentists, clinical psychologists, and even chiropractors.
Once you have selected a doctor, however, you cannot change doctors under the Longshore Act without getting your employer’s approval, or the approval of the Longshore Act’s Office of Workers’ Compensation. There are, however, mechanisms that will ensure that you can get treatment from any specialist that your doctor recommends.
Get Help for Your Claim from Longshore & Harbor Worker Compensation Attorneys in Jacksonville
Our RITE Law attorneys focus on a Longshore Act practice. That experience can be invaluable if you make a Longshore Act claim, particularly in a new area such as COVID-19 illness. At RITE Law, we started the firm for one reason – to help those in Florida and elsewhere have the resources of a firm that was “big enough to fight but small enough to care.” At Rudolph, Israel, Tucker & Ellis (RITE law), we have the resources and experience to go to trial when it is necessary, and we have the wisdom to advise you appropriately.
Without help from the RITE Law Longshore & Harbor Worker Compensation attorneys in Jacksonville, making Longshore Act claims can be very difficult. When you turn to our firm, we spring into action, making sure that every detail of your claim is addressed. Call us for help. Our number is (904) 500-RITE or you can fill out our contact form online. We provide a free case evaluation, so feel free to call us today.