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FAQ: CAN I CHOOSE MY OWN DOCTOR TO TREAT MY WORK-RELATED INJURY UNDER LOS ANGELES’ WORKERS’ COMPENSATION LAW?
The answer to this question is yes. You may see a doctor of your choice after getting a work-related injury under certain conditions.
According to the California Department of Industrial Relation’s Worker’s Compensation Guidebook for Injured Workers, workers are entitled to compensation for injuries they sustain while on the job.
Compensation is made if a worker gets injured as a result of one event, or repeated exposure to risks at work which eventually cause injury. In certain instances, the employer is also liable for stress-related injuries.
If a worker reports an injury after they have been terminated, then the employer is not liable according to California Law.
Conditions under Which You Can use your Regular Doctor
You can only use your regular doctor if you predesignate. Predesignating is the process of informing your employer that you prefer to use your personal doctor for any work-related injuries. This has to be done before the injury occurs and should be in writing. The letter has to have the name and address of the doctor or medical group you prefer.
The Process and Limitations of Predesignation
Unfortunately, not all workers are allowed to predesignate. To be eligible for predesignation the worker must have healthcare insurance that covers conditions or illnesses that are not related to work.
Workers who do not have insurance for non-work related medical conditions cannot predesignate which means they do not have the freedom to pick their own doctor when injured at work.
The Process of Predesignation
It is imperative that a worker notify their employer in writing before the injury occurs. There are three ways you can do this. The first option is to write your own written statement. The second is to fill a form provided by the employer. Lastly, you can choose to fill a form provided by the Division of Workers’ Compensation, DWC Form 9783 which can be downloaded online.
Employers tend to contract health care organizations to handle their workers’ injuries. In such a scenario, a different form is used, DW Form 1194. The form requires more information such as your name, the name of your employer, a statement of your predesignation (it has to give the name, phone number and address of your preferred physician or medical group), your signature and the date. Additionally, you have to fill the form within 30 days of being employed. In some cases, it can be filled on an annual basis.
In order to assign a medical group, they will need to meet certain standards.
The medical group should have licensed doctors of osteopathy or doctors of medicine. Their healthcare offering should be primary and specialized. Lastly, the medical groups should mainly treat non-work related medical conditions.
The doctor or medical group you choose should agree to treat you for any injuries you might sustain at work before it happens. It is always wise to have this agreement with your physician in writing.
You must also have a relationship with the physician before predesignation. They should have your medical records and be aware of your medical history.
If you work in a risky work environment where you might be prone to injury, it is important that you understand how worker’s compensation works. Again, these laws are subject to regular changes and amendments.
The experience of a workers compensation lawyer can also guide you through the process. As a worker, you may not understand the law, and this can lead to a claim denial. Knowing the provisions of the law helps you to act within the confines of the worker’s compensation laws. This helps you secure fair compensation for your work-related injuries.
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