Can I See My Own Doctor if I Get Hurt at Work?

Can I See My Own Doctor if I Get Hurt at WorkWhether you work in an office environment, a restaurant, or a construction area, all workplaces have one thing in common: the possibility of being injured on the job. Even in so-called safe workplaces like the office, a desk worker can develop a back injury by sitting in the same position for extended periods of time. A restaurant server could slip and fall on a wet floor or cut themselves on a broken wine glass. A construction worker can be seriously injured after being struck by an object.

If a worker is injured on the job, what are the appropriate procedures for being checked by a doctor? If a worker wants to see their own doctor instead of an employer-appointed physician, is that option even possible?

What are Maryland workers’ compensation requirements?

When an employee is injured at work, he or she has the responsibility to file a workers’ compensation claim to receive benefits and compensation for the injury. Generally, there are four requirements that make an employee eligible for receiving workers’ compensation. These requirements are the employee’s status, whether the employer carries workers’ compensation insurance, whether the employee has a work-related injury or illness, and whether the employee has met the state’s deadlines for reporting the injury and filing his or her claim.

What physician can I use after a Maryland workplace injury?

To satisfy the requirement that an employee has suffered a work-related injury or illness, an employee must be examined by an approved physician. Depending on the state, the employee has the option of either being examined by their own physician or being examined by an approved physician chosen by their employer. In certain states, however, the only way for employees to qualify for workers’ compensation benefits is to be examined by a physician of the employer’s choice.

In the state of Maryland, employees are not obligated to be examined by the physician chosen by their employer. They have the choice of being examined by their own physician for work-related injuries, and if the injury is covered under workers’ compensation, the employer or employer’s insurance carrier will pay for doctor visits and other medical treatments.

What are the benefits of being examined by my own physician?

While your employer may provide a list of recommended physicians, you have the choice of being treated by your own physician and should not be pressured by your employer to choose their recommendations for medical care. You can choose to be treated by a physician of your employer’s choice, but to prevent any future issues with your workers’ compensation claim, it would be in your best interest to seek treatment from your own doctor.

At the end of the day, physicians recommended by employers are beholden to the employers sending business their way. These physicians may work against your best interests by downplaying your injuries or sending you back to work while you are still recovering.

What is an independent medical examination (IME)?

Whether you are examined by your personal physician or the doctor recommended by your employer, the doctor will make decisions concerning what medical treatment you will need, when you can return to work, and whether you have a permanent disability. If your employer’s insurance company wants to challenge any of these decisions, you may be asked to complete an independent medical examination (IME).

An IME is a medical examination used to resolve questions about an employee’s medical condition involving a workers’ compensation claim. Again, while these physicians are well-respected in their fields, they are still working in the best interest of the employer and the insurance company.

How should I prepare for an IME?

Before the IME is conducted, the insurance company sends copies of your medical records to the IME doctor before your scheduled exam date. If possible, obtain a copy of that letter and check the information the insurance company has provided regarding your injury or condition, and whether the information is correct. Review the details of your accident and prepare to share those details with the IME doctor.

When you meet with the IME doctor, do not allow them to rush you. Their objective is to search for any inconsistencies in your story, so take your time. If possible, bring a family member or friend to record all notes of the exchange.

Did you suffer an injury on the job in Maryland? If so, speak with the experienced Maryland workers’ compensation attorneys at Plaxen Adler Muncy, PA about your case. Call our office at 410-730-7737, or complete a contact form to schedule a consultation. We have multiple offices throughout the state.