A really nice guy who is getting screwed over by his company (that’s a whole other story) called me to tell me about his injury and see how he can get benefits. As often happens, when a potential client tells me about one part of the case it leads to a discussion that is important but not really related to their original call.
Am I confusing you? Hopefully I can clear it up.
He was telling me the story of how he hurt his back while making a delivery. So far it’s pretty standard. He reported the injury right away and filled out an accident report. Also standard. He was smart enough to get a copy of that report. Not mandatory, but it’s a good idea to do this. He then asked them who they wanted to send him to for medical care and they didn’t give him an answer.
That last sentence is where he went off course. When you are injured, your company does have the right to send you to a doctor of their choosing. That said, you don’t have to ask them if they want to do this. You also don’t have to wait until they answer you until you see a doctor. Go see whoever you want to see. As long as your treatment is related to the work injury, they will have to pay 100% of the bill or more specifically, their work comp insurance carrier will.
It doesn’t matter if you have no insurance of your own. You don’t need personal insurance for work injuries. Your insurance is the fact that you were hurt while working. So if it’s an emergency, go to the ER. If it’s not schedule an appointment with your primary doctor or a specialist. If you don’t know any doctors either start at the ER or ask a lawyer their thoughts. We’ll never insist that you see a certain doctor, but are happy to provide guidance.
A different caller to my office also hurt his back while working. He waited a month for someone there to tell him who to see. He then got fired and called me a week after that (five weeks post injury) and said that the pain was so bad that he couldn’t take it any more. He first didn’t see a doctor because he was waiting to be told who to see and then after he was fired it was because he has no insurance.
By waiting to get treatment he created two problems: 1. It’s likely his condition worsened because it wasn’t getting treated. 2. Now that five weeks has passed and he’s no longer working, it makes it that much harder to prove that his need for medical treatment is related to the original injury. There are plenty of doctors for hire who would testify on behalf of the insurance company that the delay in medical treatment means that he wasn’t really hurt, so his current problem must be from something else.
So to answer the question, if you are hurt you should see whoever you want to see and you should do it sooner rather than later.
If you have any questions about your medical care or Illinois workers’ compensation in general, don’t hesitate to fill out our contact form to the right of the page or call us at (312) 346-5578. It’s always free and confidential.