Following an on-the-job injury, employees generally need to follow the processes of the workers’ compensation system in order to qualify for benefits. This includes negotiating with your employer and their insurance company, adhering to your state’s workers’ compensation laws, and visiting a doctor who is preapproved by the workers’ compensation board.
The thought of being treated by a doctor you do not regularly see is unfavorable to many people. Although this is the typical process of receiving medical care within the workers’ compensation system, employees can be treated by a doctor of their choice if the physician is predesignated. Predesignation is the process of officially appointing a personal physician to treat you if you are injured at work.
Do I Qualify for Physician Predesignation?
Predesignating a doctor for work injury treatment is not an option for everyone. Before you begin the process of predesignation, you will need to make sure you qualify.
If you are unsure if you qualify for predesignation, consider:
- Will your health insurance cover your treatment?
- Has your doctor agreed to treat you in case of a work accident, and provided a signed agreement in writing?
There are also parameters that define the type of doctor that can be predesignated. The State of California Department of Industrial Relations states that “The doctor must be a general practitioner, internist, pediatrician, obstetrician-gynecologist, or family practitioner who is your primary care physician.” Medical groups can also be selected as predesignated physicians. Chiropractors and acupuncturists cannot be appointed as the primary treating physician in a workers‘ compensation case, but an employee may be able to switch to a predesignated chiropractor or acupuncturist following initial treatment by a board-approved doctor.
How to Predesignate Your Personal Physician
To officially predesignate your doctor, you need to notify your employer of your choice before any injuries occur. The process for doing this will depend on your employer’s policies — this information should be available in your employee handbook or any other information about workers’ compensation that is available to you. Your employer may have their own form that is used to predesignate a doctor. If not, a letter may suffice. Or, you use a state-provided form such as California’s DWC Form 9783. In California, workers who are employed by a business that is associated with a health care organization (HCO) must complete DWC Form 1194.
What if I Haven’t Predesignated a Doctor, and I’m Injured at Work?
If you have not predesignated your personal physician, you will need to receive medical care from an approved workers’ compensation doctor. Your employer should provide a list of providers from which you can choose a doctor, and can help you coordinate appointments. The doctor you choose will provide care while you recover from your injury and will give your employer updates on your medical improvement.
The Law Offices of Wax & Wax can help you navigate the workers’ compensation system and recover the benefits you deserve. Our lawyers are available for free case evaluations.For all of your workers’ compensation questions, contact our legal team. You can request a free consultation with our attorneys by calling (818) 946-0608 or using our contact form.