If you have gotten an injury recently, you may be wondering if you can see a doctor now, or if you have to wait until you get workers’ compensation insurance. The short answer is no, you do need to wait for workers’ comp before you see a doctor. Employers in New York must carry workers’ compensation insurance, so you will always have an opportunity to get your work comp claim later at a later time. Most workers comp doctors understand that and will see you even if you are still waiting to process your paperwork; this is especially true in the case of an emergency.
If you are injured at work, you should let your supervisor know immediately (you have up to 30 days to report it in New York). If you can, inform your supervisor in writing so you and your employer both have the record for later if necessary.
In some states, you are even required to inform them in writing. Make sure you let them know immediately because some states have a very short statute of limitations on injuries.
Your supervisor will start the process of filing for workers’ compensation. If you are a federal employee, you are covered under the Federal Employees Compensation Act (FECA), which means you may select any doctor to be treated under, although there are some restrictions on chiropractors.
On the other hand, if you are not a federal employee, FECA does not apply, and the state laws cover your injury. You may select your own doctor in some states if you have notified them in writing before an injury occurred. This is called predesignating your doctor. In this case, you can see your doctor right away.
It is important to note that you can only predesignate a doctor if you already have health insurance for other injuries that are not related to work.
Sometime, your employer will try to refer you to a doctor they have picked out for you. In some circumstances, you may be required to see the company’s doctor for up to 30 days before you can decide if you want to see your own doctor.
If you can, you should see your own doctor as soon as possible. Often, workers comp doctors who work with employers and their insurers have a conflict of interest.
When you get an appointment with a doctor, whether it is your doctor or a company doctor, you should show up early for your appointment. Missing your appointment or showing up so late you cannot see the doctor will go in your records. Later, when the insurance or commissioner sees this in your file, they will assume you did not care, so you may not get your settlement.
Finally, when you do see a doctor, make sure you follow their instructions exactly, taking any prescriptions and following other directions to the letter — this is necessary for not only your health but also your claim. If you have to tell your doctor you did not follow the instructions; this could wreck your workers’ compensation claim and prevent you from getting your settlement.
If you need help finding an experienced workers comp doctor near you, call (800) 897-8440
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