Can I Choose My Own Workers’ Compensation Doctor?

Supportive doctor soothing worried patient, sitting on exam table - workers compensation doctor concept

If you were hurt on the job, it is essential to seek medical attention immediately. Many work-related injuries can become more serious if they are not treated right away. While Workers’ Compensation can cover the reasonable and necessary medical expenses that are directly related to the accident, you will need to be seen by a provider within the Washington Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) network. However, you can still choose your own Workers’ Compensation doctor.

Can You Choose Your Workers’ Compensation Doctor?

In the event you were injured on the job, you might be wondering whether you can receive Workers’ Compensation benefits — and if you can select the doctor who will treat you for your claim. Many people are unaware that under Washington law, work injury claimants may choose their own doctor for their claim. The only requirement is that the provider be part of the L&I Medical Provider Network. If your primary care physician is part of the network, you would not need to change providers at all.

If you decide to choose your own Workers’ Compensation doctor, you should carefully consider your options. It’s critical to have a doctor who has the experience and skill needed to handle your claim, as well as familiarity with your specific type of injury. It’s best to choose a doctor who specializes in the area of your injury and has a solid understanding of Workers’ Compensation claims. You should also factor in their availability for appointments and how far their office is from your home for travel purposes.

In addition, you can get a second medical opinion from a different provider, as long as it is approved by your claim manager. You can also change medical providers at any time during the Workers’ Compensation process.

Can Your Employer Choose Your Doctor?

If your employer wants to select your Workers’ Compensation doctor, you may see that doctor if you wish, but it is crucial to understand that you have the right to choose your own doctor. You may also decide if you would like to have someone accompany you to the doctor visits — and who that person will be. You have the right to decline to have any representative of the company, including the company nurse, accompany you to any medical visits.

What Does a Workers’ Compensation Doctor Do?

The goal of a Workers’ Compensation doctor is to diagnose your injury, offer treatment options, and determine whether the injury was caused by a work accident or repetitive use injury. They may also recommend certain tests and additional treatment. One of the biggest advantages to having a Workers’ Compensation doctor is that they will understand the medical documentation that is needed to assist with your claim, whether it includes x-rays, hospital records, lab tests, MRIs, or any other type of documentation.

Typically, a Workers’ Compensation doctor will do the following:

  • Manage treatment for the work-related condition
  • Report progress to your claims manager
  • Refer you to specialists
  • Decide when you can return to work or what accommodations you need related to the job you were hurt at
  • Recommend further treatment that may be needed
  • Assess whether you have been left with a permanent impairment

One of the most important things a Workers’ Compensation doctor will do is help you coordinate a safe return to the workplace. They can evaluate whether you require any accommodations or should observe any restrictions. Once you have reached maximum medical improvement and your condition has stabilized, your doctor will evaluate whether you have any permanent limitations or impairment.

Contact an Experienced Washington Workers’ Compensation Attorney

Workers’ Compensation claims can be complex and it is vital to have an attorney on your side who can guide you through the legal process — as well as help you avoid pitfalls in your claim. A knowledgeable Workers’ Compensation attorney can guide you through the process of filing an L&I claim and help you select a doctor who is right for your claim. The Bellingham Workers’ Compensation attorneys at Robinson & Kole provide trusted representation to injured workers throughout Washington State and strive to secure the best possible outcome in each case. We welcome you to contact us for a free consultation by calling 800.640.5616 or by using our online contact form. Se habla Español.