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Can You Choose Your Own Doctor for a Workers’ Compensation Claim in South Carolina?

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Understanding How the Doctor Is Selected in Workers’ Compensation Claims

Nobody expects to get injured at work. You think that you’re going to arrive at your job, perform your duties, and go home to your family at the end of the day. However, in 2022 alone, there were 34,100 nonfatal injuries reported for private industry employees across South Carolina. This is almost 100 injuries per day in this category alone. Thousands more were injured in the public sector, and some of these accidents were even fatal.

When you get injured on the job, it’s important to understand how the process of filing for workers’ compensation works and what your rights are. One of the most common questions injured workers have is whether they are allowed to see their own doctor. Find out how the workers’ compensation system in South Carolina works and whether you can choose your own health care provider for the evaluation and treatment of your injuries.

The Workers’ Compensation System in South Carolina

The workers’ compensation system in South Carolina is designed to ensure that employees continue to receive part of their income and have their medical bills covered if they are injured while on the job. If you were hurt while working, the first step is to notify your employer and seek medical treatment. If you don’t require emergency medical care, you must go to an employer-approved physician for treatment. You must also file a formal claim for workers’ compensation benefits within 2 years of the accident.

Your claim will be evaluated, and if it’s approved, you will receive compensation benefits for your medical expenses and lost wages or permanent disability benefits. If your claim is denied, there is an appeals process you can go through to ask them to reconsider.

Can You Choose Your Own Doctor?

Under South Carolina workers’ compensation law, employees are not allowed to choose their own doctor. Any health care provider evaluating or treating an injury or illness that happened at work must be approved by the employer. However, the employer may have several approved health care providers, and if so, you may be free to choose between those doctors for your evaluation and treatment.

Remember that you have a specific timeframe under which you must be evaluated and treated if you’re planning on filing a workers’ compensation claim. It’s important that you see an approved doctor as soon as possible — both to ensure you receive appropriate medical treatment for your injuries and to keep your workers’ compensation case moving along.

Requesting a Change of Provider

In some situations, you may want to see a different provider than the doctor who initially evaluated your injuries. Maybe you’re not satisfied with the care you’re receiving, you feel the doctor is biased and trying to downplay your injuries, or their office is too far away and is creating a burden for you to get to appointments. If you have a valid reason, you may be able to request a different provider.

This process starts by contacting your employer or their insurer to explain that you would like to change providers. In some cases, it may be as simple as the insurer sending you to another approved provider. However, there are times when the employer or the insurer may refuse. If this happens, you have the option of contacting the South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Commission to request a hearing. Your attorney can be present for this and explain why a change in provider is warranted. If the Commission agrees, you will be able to make the switch.

Your Rights as an Injured Worker

Being injured on the job is a difficult situation that affects both your health and your ability to earn an income. But as an injured worker, you have specific rights under the workers’ compensation laws in South Carolina.

You have the right to seek emergency medical treatment. Your employer’s right to choose the medical provider does not trump your right to immediate care. If you require emergency medical treatment for your injuries, you are allowed to go to the emergency room of your choice, and workers’ comp benefits will cover the cost if your claim is approved.

You also have the right to be reimbursed for transportation to and from the approved provider’s office as long as it is more than 10 miles from your house. This is a mileage-based reimbursement, meaning there is a standard per-mile rate that is paid out.

Finally, you have the right to have dedicated legal representation throughout the process. A workers’ compensation attorney serves as your advocate and legal counsel to ensure your rights are protected, your employer and their insurer follow the law, and you get the benefits you’re entitled to.

A Workers’ Compensation Attorney Who Fights for You

Filing for workers’ compensation benefits can feel like you’re fighting the system all alone — and that’s the last thing you should be doing when you’re trying to recover from injuries. That’s why it’s important to work with a workers’ compensation attorney who is focused on your interests and needs and advocating for you throughout the process.

If you’re dealing with a workers’ compensation claim and have questions about the process or aren’t happy with your employer-chosen health care provider, call Lee Injury Law LLC at 803-855-1012. Our attorneys have helped clients across Columbia navigate this process and ensure that they get the workers’ compensation benefits they’re entitled to.

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