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The Right To Choose Your Doctor

Of the many recent changes made to the work comp statute in Florida (at the request of the insurance companies), the right to control the medical care has probably been the most damaging to employees injured on the job. The law provides the insurance company chooses the initial treating doctor. While the injured worker is entitled to change physicians, you must be very careful in exercising this right without legal assistance, as you are limited to one change in each case in many situations. Because the doctor’s opinion greatly impacts your entitlement to benefits (medical care and lost wages/money benefits), it is critical to seek assistance early in the case.

It is common for the insurance company to send you to a walk-in clinic or physician that is well-known to provide minimal care and give the insurance company a favorable opinion at the outset. Naturally you become frustrated over the limited treatment and complain to the adjuster. At this point many adjusters will even encourage you to exercise your right to a change in doctors. They do this because the law allows them to pick the 2nd doctor if they timely respond to your request. Well of course, they’ll timely respond to your request when they are discussing the matter with you. As you can imagine, the next doctor is typically no better than the first. Now you’ve been seen by two doctors neither of which has ordered the appropriate diagnostic studies nor provided you with appropriate treatment and when you voice your displeasure, the adjuster says, “you’re out of options…would you like to settle for nuisance value?”

The above scenario happens a lot! There are several ways to avoid this in your case. The most important thing is to call an attorney while you’re seeing the first insurance company doctor; however, even if you’ve gone through the full scenario you very well may still have options including exercising your right to an IME (Independent Medical Evaluation) or even requesting a second opinion. Before you settle the case for nuisance value, call Nicole Hessen for a free consultation to discuss your options. We’ve handled many cases throughout Florida and we know how to direct your claim in the manner that gets you the most benefits.

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