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!


NC Workers Comp Secrets – You were sent to a doctor for a reason

After you file your Workers Compensation claim in North Carolina, the insurance carrier has several choices – they can either deny your claim (in which case we strongly recommend that you contact a workers comp lawyer immediately), or they will accept liability for your claim.

If the insurance company accepts liability for your claim, then they have the option to direct your medical care.  That means that they can and will tell you which doctors to see for your injuries and medical treatment.  The insurance companies have been doing this for a long time, and they know which doctors will work with them to get you to back to work quickly (even if that is not what is right for you) and which ones will listen carefully when you tell them that you don’t think you can do your job.  Does the insurance company want you to see a good doctor?  Of course.  But the insurance company also wants you to see a doctor that will take their side in most disputes, and will try to get you back to work as soon as possible.

So the question remains, what to do if you disagree with the opinion of the doctor that the insurance company selected? In certain situations, (such as if you have been released to work but don’t feel like you can still do your job), you are entitled to seek a second opinion from a doctor of your own choosing.  In addition, if you receive a “permanent partial disability” rating, but you are not satisfied with your rating, then you may seek a second opinion under NC Statute 97-27(b).

The bottom line here is that if you are told something by your insurance company or adjuster – take it with a grain of salt.  Many adjusters will tell you that you have to go to their doctor and are not entitled to a second opinion.  This is simply not true.  If you have questions about your rights, than seek out a workers compensation attorney that can answer your questions.