Medical Treatment Covered By Workers’ Compensation
If you are injured on the job, you are entitled to medical treatment for your injuries under the Georgia Workers’ Compensation Act. If your injury is an emergency, dial 911 or go to the emergency room. Medical treatment from an emergency room is compensable if it is proven that an emergency existed at the time the service was rendered.
If your injury is not an emergency, you should immediately notify your supervisor and request to see their posted panel of physicians. What is the posted panel of physicians? Every employer subject to the Georgia Workers’ Compensation Act is required to post a panel of physicians in a conspicuous location (one that is easy to find).
How The Panel Works
Usually, the panel is on a pink piece of paper on a bulletin board where other required Federal Employment Law postings are located. When you are injured, you have the right to select a physician off of their panel for treatment. Usually, your employer will try to get you to select an industrial clinic or a prompt care clinic, but these doctors do not always provide the right kind of care for your injury.
Even if you wind up with a doctor you do not like, go ahead and get medical treatment and tell that doctor exactly how you injured yourself. Later, you can change physicians to another panel physician of your choice, and if you receive temporary total disability or temporary partial disability benefits, you are also entitled to a one-time independent medical examination (IME).
Additionally, a trained workers’ compensation attorney will request a copy of the panel of physicians and make sure the panel is valid under the Georgia Workers’ Compensation Act and the State Board of Workers’ Compensation Board Rules.
If the panel is invalid, you are free to select any physician of your choice. However, the insurance company will often fight your selection, contest the validity of the panel, and refuse to authorize treatment of another physician. That is where an experienced workers’ compensation attorney like Bryan S. Hawkins can help.
Your medical records are critical to proving your claim. You should always make it clear to every medical provider that your injury occurred on the job regardless of whether the workers’ compensation insurance company has agreed to provide your medical treatment. When your case winds up in front of a workers’ compensation judge, and the evidence comes down to ‘he said – she said’ your medical records, and the fact that they specify that your injury did in fact occur on the job, will usually tip the scale in your favor absent any other contradictory evidence.
Keep Track Of Everything
It may be a good idea to write down all of your symptoms and keep notes on exactly what happened as soon after the accident as possible, but do not turn your personal notes over to anyone other than your attorney. Otherwise, the insurance company’s adjuster and/or its attorney will look for inconsistencies in your medical records and your subsequent explanation of how you were injured and what was hurt to attack your credibility and strengthen their case.
Keep your doctor’s appointments, regardless of whether you like the doctor or not. A string of missed doctor’s appointments can indicate that the injury is not serious in the eyes of both the insurance company and the workers’ compensation judge. Do not over exaggerate your symptoms. Tell your doctor exactly what happened and your symptoms to the best of your ability. Always be truthful, and justice will prevail. Attend physical therapy appointments and participate to the best of your abilities.
Remember, you are not at these appointments to socialize. Do not tell your medical care providers things like how hard your supervisor has been on you and how you are going to “stick it to them.” While this sounds like a silly reminder, often these types of comments are taken out of context and entered into your medical records which can later be used against you. Your credibility depends on accurate medical records which include consistent symptoms.
Questions? Get Answers In A Free Consultation
Tell your doctors the facts, but call us to discuss your case. At The Law Office of Bryan S. Hawkins, all initial consultations and file reviews are free, and you are not obligated to retain our services. We will not take a case if we cannot make a difference — that is our promise to you. To set up your free consultation, call us in Augusta at 706-305-1130 or fill out our online contact form.