After being injured on the job, you may feel overwhelmed and be wondering what the next steps are. With over 60 years of combined experience, one of the most common questions our lawyers get from our workers compensation clients is if they can go to their preferred doctor for diagnosis and treatment following a work injury. Unfortunately, South Carolina workers’ compensation laws restrict injured workers from being able to choose their own doctor if they want their medical expenses to be covered by workers’ compensation. We understand that this can be a very frustrating part of the South Carolina workers’ compensation process, but we are here to help you through it.
No matter what industry you work in, it’s critical to understand your rights as you navigate the South Carolina workers’ comp system. If you have any questions, our team is here to help. Simply give our office a call at (803) 888-2200 and we’ll be happy to walk you through your options.
Can I Choose My Own Doctor During My Workers Compensation Case?
Under South Carolina law, your employer has the right to choose your treating doctor for an injury or illness that occurs on the job. Meaning, you will need to ask your employer or workers’ compensation representative which doctor you can go to for treatment.
If you decide to go to your own doctor, then your medical bills may not be covered and you could be left paying out of pocket. This can cause a major financial burden and severely hurt your chances of receiving any compensation for your work injury damages whatsoever, such as time missed from work, lost wages, reduced earning capacity, disability benefits, and more.
What If I Want a Second Opinion?
If you’re unhappy with your experience with the doctor your employer sent you to, or simply want a second opinion, you will need to ask your employer’s representative if they will allow you to go to another doctor. From there, the representative will either approve or deny your request.
If your request for a second opinion is denied, you may request a hearing with a Workers’ Compensation Commissioner. In this case, it is in your best interest to speak with an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer to make sure you are setting yourself up for success.
What If I or My Loved One Needed Emergency Care?
If your injuries required emergency treatment, then you have the right to get this treatment covered through workers compensation. If you’re able to, you should tell the ER staff that the injury happened on the job, as having this noted on the paperwork can help your case. You should also speak with your workers’ comp rep about any follow-up treatment they recommended before moving forward with it, as it may not be approved or covered.
Preparing For Your First Appointment
Once you have set up an appointment with the doctor selected by your employer, it’s important to:
- Tell the doctor about all injuries and symptoms you have been experiencing since the accident.
- Be prepared to discuss prior injuries and pre-existing health conditions not related to the accident.
During this appointment, the doctor will be evaluating whether your injuries are truly work-related. As long as they are found to have been caused by your on-the-job injury, your medical treatment will typically be covered.
What Is The Role of My Treating Doctor?
When getting treatment under workers’ compensation, your treating doctor or physician will be responsible for many aspects of your care such as:
- Diagnosing and treating your injuries or illness.
- Referring you to specialists such as surgeons, neurologists, orthopedics, or other specialists.
- Referring you to rehabilitation providers such as physical therapists or occupational therapists.
- Deciding any necessary work restrictions during your recovery such as medical leave/time off, light duty, part-time, or other.
- Determining when you can return to work.
- Determining when you’ve reached maximum medical improvement (MMI).
- Determining your level of permanent disability.
I Was Assigned a Nurse Case Manager, Is This Normal?
Yes, your employer or their insurance carrier may also provide you with a nurse case manager (NCM). Your NCM will act as a medical case worker and an intermediary between you, carriers, attorneys, medical care providers, and employers. They will assist you throughout the workers’ compensation process, and may coordinate appointments, help facilitate your return to work, summarize your medical care/treatment, and more. With your permission, they can attend medical appointments alongside you.
Your NCM will not provide you with any treatment or decide what treatment you receive.
If you have any questions about the role of your NCM or feel they are not acting in your best interest, you should speak directly with your workers’ compensation lawyer as soon as possible.
Is It Worth Hiring a Workers’ Compensation Lawyer For My Case?
There are many benefits to hiring a workers’ compensation lawyer for your case. An experienced SC workers compensation lawyer will ensure you get the entirety of the benefits you’re owed under South Carolina law, ensure all case deadlines are met, optimize your claim, manage important communication, and protect your rights, all while smoothly guiding you through the process. This allows you to focus entirely on recovering while having peace of mind knowing that you have someone in your corner who you can trust.
In our experience, it is definitely in your best interest to hire a lawyer if your employer or its insurance company is giving you any sort of trouble, your workers’ compensation claim is denied, you’re out of work for a week or more, you face any discrimination from your employer after filing a claim, you’re struggling to get the treatment you need, you need to plan for permanent disability, or if you currently receive other government benefits.
Talking to our award-winning workers’ compensation lawyers is entirely free. If you have any questions or would like more information, simply give our team a call at (803) 888-2200, complete our online form, or email [email protected] and our team will be in touch with you shortly. For your convenience, we are available via phone 24/7.
Cavanaugh & Thickens: Workers’ Compensation Lawyers On Your Side
You should not be left to handle the workers’ compensation process on your own after an accident on the job. Our experienced workers’ compensation lawyers are here to help you recover physically, financially, and emotionally while protecting your rights. Let us handle the legal aspects of your case so you can focus on recovering.
With a track record of obtaining successful results for our clients and over 150 5-star reviews, you can trust that we have your back. For a complimentary case evaluation, simply call our office at (803) 888-2200 or email [email protected]. We are here to answer any questions you have and guide you through the next steps.