Workers compensation and your right to choose your doctor

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A common misconception relating to workers’ compensation is that employers or insurers are able to tell a worker which doctor they must be treated by.

Put simply, this information is incorrect but there are some reasons why you may be required to present to a doctor who is not of your choosing.

Here is what you should do if you are being told you cannot choose your own doctor and when the insurer is within their rights to request it.

Can I choose my own treating doctor?

Yes. The doctor who you choose to treat your injury, be it psychological or physical, is referred to as your Nominated Treating Doctor. This is the doctor you have nominated, which is within your rights to do, and they will be different from the doctor the insurer has asked you to see. Depending on your case, your Nominated Treating Doctor may refer you to see a doctor chosen by the insurer, but this will be in conjunction with your Nominated Treating Doctor, not instead of.

Why would I see a doctor other than my Nominated Treating Doctor?

Workers’ compensation is like any other insurance scheme that is able to investigate claimants and the legitimacy of their claims. During the course of your claim being processed, you may be asked to present to a doctor who is a specialist in the field of your injury so that they can assess the severity of your injury and provide an impartial opinion on your condition to the insurer as part of their assessment of your claim. The insurer may also ask you to see an Independent Medical Examiner to review whether the treatment being administered or planned by your Nominated Treating Doctor is appropriately meeting the needs of your injury or working capacity.

An appointment with a doctor who is chosen by the insurer is called an Independent Medical Examination and it is not intended that this appointment will form part of your treatment plan. The insurer and your employer cannot ask you to attend an appointment with an Independent Medical Examiner for the purposes of entering into an Injury Management Plan or obtaining a Certificate of Capacity.

Do I have to attend an Independent Medical Examination?

Yes. As long as the appointment is in fact an Independent Medical Examination and not for treatment. Refusing or failing to attend an Independent Medical Examination can be detrimental to your claim and your financial situation, so it is in your best interests to attend. If you think you will struggle to attend an appointment that has been made for you, you should inform your contact at the insurer as soon as possible to see if accommodations can be made. Time limits often apply to Independent Medical Examinations so you should not delay attending.

What should I do if I am asked to see a doctor, not of my choosing?

If you have been asked by either your employer or the insurer to attend an appointment with a doctor you have not chosen to see you should ask them in writing what the purpose of the appointment is. The response should include the words ‘Independent Medical Examination’.

If you are uncertain that the appointment you are being asked to attend is strictly for an Independent Medical Examination or you are otherwise in need of advice about your workers’ compensation claim, our experienced personal injury lawyers can help on 07 40520 700. We work on a ‘no win, no fee’ basis so there is nothing to pay upfront.