If an individual is injured at work, it is important to seek an attorney’s counsel quickly for many different reasons. One of the main reasons concerns the injured worker and the medical care he or she will receive through the workers’ compensation system. The beginning of a workers’ compensation case is crucial: following the injury, the injured worker is sent to receive care with a physician selected by the workers’ compensation insurance carrier. This physician/patient relationship can determine the direction of the entire case. The physician becomes the “authorized treating physician” for purposes of workers’ compensation, through whom all treatment and referrals flow. Further, it is the authorized treating physician who ultimately will become responsible for determining when the injured worker reaches maximum medical improvement, the amount of permanent impairment assigned, and the future treatment necessary for the injured worker to maintain maximum medical improvement. Obviously, the injured worker/authorized treating physician relationship is critical to the case at large. If the injured worker does not feel comfortable with his or her workers’ compensation doctor, he or she can request a change of physician; however, the insurance carrier is not obligated to change the physician simply because the injured worker does not like the physician. Often an agreement can be reached between the insurance carrier and the injured worker on a different doctor to take over the injured worker’s care. Therefore, it is imperative that an injured worker seek out legal advice at the beginning of his or her claim, especially if he or she does not like the workers’ compensation doctor. The sooner the issue is addressed, the more likely an agreement can be reached to change the injured worker’s treating physician.
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