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When Can You Choose Your Own Medical Provider?

Choosing a doctor is a deeply personal act — and a right that most people value highly. However, many workers’ compensation claimants run into trouble when it comes to directing their treatment following a work-related injury. Many injured employees are disturbed to learn that they may have to see a doctor not necessarily of their choosing. While this is uncomfortable for many, it is not necessarily detrimental to your claim so long as you know your rights.

California’s workers’ compensation regulations state that an employee claiming a work-related injury must receive treatment from an employer-designated primary treating physician (PTP) for at least 30 days following the injury. However, an injured employee can continue to consult with other physicians during this period. Moreover, after 30 days, the employee can transition to a physician of his or her choosing.

The California Labor Code provides employees who disagree with a PTP’s diagnosis or treatment recommendations with the following means of recourse:

  • If an employee disagrees with the PTP’s diagnoses or recommended course of treatment, he or she may request a second and third opinion from another provider in the same network.
  • If an employee disagrees with the PTP regarding the limitations caused by an injury or the permanency thereof, he or she may request a comprehensive medical evaluation by an independent panel of three physicians of appropriate credentials and specialization.

Much can be accomplished prior to the litigation stage of California workers’ compensation claims. That is why it is important to consult an Orange County workers’ compensation lawyer at the first sign of resistance by your employer.

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