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Who chooses the doctor tasked with treating an injured worker?

On Behalf of | Jun 3, 2024 | Workers' Compensation |

Navigating workers’ compensation claims can be difficult. Most working professionals only understand the basics about what benefits they have available. They never learn the nuance of how the workers’ compensation program in Virginia operates.

Employees often understand that workers’ compensation can pay for their medical care and replace some of their lost wages. Many people expect a fast and even friendly application process, only to end up bogged down in red tape. There are many rules that govern workers’ compensation benefits that workers need to understand if they want to get the amount of support they deserve.

Medical care is often a key element of a workers’ compensation claim. Can an employee choose who treats them for a work injury in Virginia?

Employers choose the options, but workers choose the doctor

Virginia has a two-part process for selecting the physician for a workers’ compensation claim. Typically, employers must provide a panel of options. Workers should have at least three physicians to choose from when they file a claim.

Employers generally need to provide the list of the panel of potential physicians as soon as possible. Occasionally, in emergency scenarios, workers can have immediate care covered if there is no time to secure guidance from an employer due to the emergency medical needs that they have. However, as the claim progresses, the worker must continue treatment under a physician from the list provided by their employer.

They have the final say in who actually oversees their treatment. Making that choice is important, as a physician decides what functional restrictions an employee may have and what accommodations they require. Physicians even determine when a worker can get back to their job or when they reach maximum medical improvement and are unlikely to respond to additional treatment.

Those who receive medical care through workers’ compensation benefits in Virginia typically do not have to worry about covering treatment costs out of pocket. The trade-off for that is that they don’t have complete control over the physician who provides their treatments or oversees their care.

Learning more about the medical benefits available through workers’ compensation is useful for anyone struggling with a job injury. The right support during a claim can help a worker maximize their benefits and their chances of achieving a full recovery.