Don’t Follow Your Doctor’s Orders – Your Legal Rights As an Injured Worker

Rosalie is a bus driver. Before the end of her shift, on a particularly rainy day, Rosalie walked up and down the aisle to make sure that no personal belongings were left on the bus. She slipped in a puddle that had formed on the floor from the rain that had been tracked in from her route. Instinctually, Rosalie tried to break her fall by holding out her hands, which resulted in a fractured wrist. Fortunately, Rosalie did not hit her head, but she also strained her back when she fell. Because Rosalie had already returned to the bus station, she was able to yell for help and seek medical attention right away. It was obvious that Rosalie’s wrist was broken so she was sent to the emergency room right away which resulted in surgery to correct her fracture. While the surgeon told her that it would take about 6 – 9 weeks for her wrist to heal, she could start “light” duty at work and physical therapy after a couple of weeks depending on how well she was healing. After about 3 weeks, Rosalie returned to work and was given “light” office duty as she wouldn’t be able to drive bus for a while. When it was time for Rosalie to start physical therapy, she chose a doctor from the list of workers’ compensation doctors. At first, Rosalie struggled with physical therapy but she thought it was because it was new. After a week or two, Rosalie felt no change and she didn’t feel comfortable with some of her therapist’s methods. She chose a second doctor, from the list, who also seemed to do very little for her. After rejecting the company doctor, she found a different physical therapist (who was not a workers’ compensation doctor) and almost immediately saw and felt better results.

Because Rosalie chose a doctor other than from the Posted Panel of Physicians, her employer has warned her that the current cost of her medical expenses may not be covered, even though her injuries occurred while on the job. Rosalie had cooperated with her employer by choosing doctors from the posted panel, but felt like she needed to take action in her own hands, in order to stop suffering from the pain of her work related injuries. Rosalie does not want to lose her job or her doctor, so she has decided to seek legal advice.

What You Need to do if You are Injured at Work

If you are injured at work, you should seek medical attention as soon as possible. In the State of Georgia, an injured employee must be given the opportunity to choose a physician from the Posted Panel of Physicians and should be explained the Employee’s Bill of Rights (as provided by law). An employer is responsible for such procedures, in addition to reporting the injury, as failure to do so may result in a number of issues including employer penalties and an employee’s delayed return to the workplace.

While it is important for the injured employee to work together and communicate with the employer, medical care and treatment is the number one priority. If a worker is unsatisfied with the care received from a Workers’ Compensation doctor, another can be chosen from the list of physicians. An injured-on-the-job worker should not be held accountable for any of the financial responsibilities related to the incident. If you, as an injured worker, are unsure about your medical care or financial responsibilities, it’s best to contact a legal professional who has experience with Workers’ Compensation Claims.

If you have suffered an on the job injury, your only worry should concern getting better and healing, not the financial stress and worry of who will cover your medical costs.

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