Choosing your Workers Comp Doctor in NC

Anyone who is injured on the job in North Carolina must be careful when researching their rights on the internet.  As Mike Helfand points out in this post on his Illinois Workers’ Compensation Law Blog, workers in Illinois are able to choose their own doctor and medical facility for treatment.

Unfortunately, workers in North Carolina are not afforded such luxuries, except for in rare circumstances.  In North Carolina, once the insurance company accepts liability for your claim, they are able to direct your medical care.  That means that they can pick the doctors who treat you, and tell you where to go for your appointments.

In some cases, you are able to object and ask for a second opinion, but for the most part your adjuster can tell you where to go and who to see for treatment.

Based on Mr. Helfand’s post, it appears that in Illinois workers are given the right to pick their own doctors and hospitals for treatment.  Is this a better system that North Carolina?  It’s hard to say without more information.  It would appear to be more fair to the injured worker, and lead to less incidents of fraud on the part of the insurance company.

However, some of the other rights that residents of Illinois receive, such as being able to visit providers without having to pay a co-pay or other out of pocket expenses are similar to the policies in North Carolina.  Here, if you claim is accepted, you need not worry about paying your medical bills, they will be paid for by the insurance company.

Mr. Helfand also states that in Illinois, the worker may “speak to your doctors freely without fear that your privacy is lost”.  In North Carolina, you must be careful when you talk to your doctor, because anything you tell them is likely to become part of the record in your case.  Therefore, you must be very careful about how you talk to your doctors and what you tell them about your injury.  Seemingly inconsequential statements can have disastrous effects when taken out of context.

Bottom line – if you have been injured in North Carolina and are researching Workers Comp laws online, make sure that the website you are reading deals with North Carolina laws – not the law of other jurisdictions!