One of the most common and broad questions we get is something like, “I was hurt at work, what are my rights?”

The simple and generic answer is, you have a right to medical care and compensation for your time off work. That’s a pretty simple explanation.  It answers the question, but not really.

Take for example a recent caller who lives in Illinois and was hurt working in Illinois, but works for a company out of Indiana.  Even though his injury was very severe and he was at the emergency room, his boss showed up and told him he had to leave.  He went on to say that the only treatment they’d pay for was at some Indiana clinic an hour away.

That injured worker wanted to know their rights.  In that case, they had the right to say forget you, I’m staying at the emergency room.  And if they did, the employer or their insurance company would have to pay for it.  In general you have the right to get emergency care right away.  There are no networks or providers or anything you have to worry about.  You get to the doctor and focus on your health.

Does the employer have the right to make you go to one of their doctors?  Yes, but for a one time visit. They can’t make you treat at their company clinic.  You should exercise your right to decline their request if they want this because most company clinics seem to be willing to say whatever the employer wants.  They don’t seem to focus on your health as much as saying you are fine to work.  They are also hesitant to order tests like MRI’s that can help figure out what’s really wrong with you.

You have a right to a second medical opinion if you don’t like the first.

You have a right to refuse surgery.  You can’t turn down physical therapy or any other non-invasive treatment. If you do that you can lose your benefits.

It’s absolutely your right to refuse to give a recorded statement.  There is no good reason to give one even if the insurance adjuster makes you feel like you have to.

You have a right to not allow a nurse case manager or other insurance representative to talk to your doctor.  They will try to interfere with your medical care.  You don’t have to let them.

It is absolutely your right to take your case to Arbitration if you aren’t happy with a settlement offer. It’s a good idea to do that if you want to keep your medical rights open.

There are a lot of other rights.  In general though, if you feel you are being pushed around or taken advantage of you likely have the right and ability to push back and fight.  Insurance companies and some employers will try to get away with a lot.  They will push the envelope on your rights.  You have to push back.