Must You Treat With A Company Doctor After A Work Injury?

The medical treatment received within first 90 days after a legitimate work injury are the most critical. In Pennsylvania, most employers require an injured worker to treat with a panel occupational medicine provider for the first 90 days after a work injury is reported. (A panel physician is a list of physicians that your employer must post in your workplace and you may be require to treat with for the first 90 days after your accident). However, what many injured workers do not realize is: they may be able to treat with a doctor of their own choice for those first 90 days, if their employer does not follow the law.

Typically a panel physician provider has a pre-existing relationship with the employer and/or insurance carrier. While the employer is not legally permitted to control your medical care, the ultimate opinions of these company physicians may be directed/influenced by the employer, possibly requiring you to return to work before you are physically capable. Returning to work before you are physically capable may put you at risk for additional further injury as well as turning a temporary injury into a permanent one.

Employers often threaten injured workers to not pay for medical treatment for the first 90 days unless they treat with one of the panel occupational medicine providers. While an employer may be able to avoid payment of medical treatment, under certain circumstances, there are opportunities for savvy injured workers to seek treatment with their own physician and have that care paid for by the employer within the first 90 days after an accepted work related injury.

An employer must provide injured workers with a list of the panel providers of the company either through posting them in the workplace and/or providing them to the injured worker at the time of the injury.

The regulation that requires injured workers to treat with the panel physician also requires employers to provide injured workers with a Notice of Rights and Duties as soon as possible after the injury. If they fail to provide this Notice as well as provide a list of panel physicians, the Employer forfeits the requirement for you to treat with the panel physician. What this means is that your employer must provide the required Notice to you shortly after you report a work injury. If your employer fails to provide you with a Notice of Rights and Duties for a work injury, you may have the choice to treat at a provider, of your choice, within those critical first 90 days after your injury. If the employer accepts responsibility for the injury, and has failed to provide a timely Notice of Rights and Duties, they cannot avoid payment of the treatment with the physician of your choice unless that treatment is unrelated to your work injury.

Be aware that if an employer has posted a list of panel doctors and provides you with a timely Notice of Rights and Duties and you do not treat with the panel medical provider for the first 90 days, payment for that treatment can legally be refused by the employer. That cost will then be borne by you.

At the expiration of 90 days after the report of a work injury, the law allows you to treat with any physician of your choosing.

Remember, if you are injured at work, Pennsylvania law requires you to notify your employer as soon as possible. If you are unsure whether you have been provided with the proper Notice of Rights and Duties, call us today.

Let the attorneys at McDonald At Law assist you through the complex Pennsylvania workers compensation system.

-Christopher L. Scott, Esq.


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