When You Disagree with Your Doctor About Going Back to Work
You were injured in a workplace accident and now your treating physician says you’re ready to go back to work. You disagree. Your body is telling you things are not all right, but the doctor isn’t listening. Your employer asks for an independent medical examination, or IME, and that physician says you are ready to return to full duty. If you refuse, will you lose your benefits? Can you be fired?
Workers’ compensation will not continue to pay disability benefits if your doctor says you are not disabled. But, that doesn’t mean you can’t challenge a treating physician’s conclusions by getting a second opinion. After all, the treating physician may not be your doctor, and the doctor performing an IME is hardly independent.
According to Pennsylvania law, if your employer has posted in your workplace a list of six or more healthcare providers, you are required to visit a provider on the list for your initial treatment. So, a company can easily force you to select a doctor with whom it has a relationship. Right off the bat, you are seeing a doctor who gets business from your company, rather than your primary care physician or a specialist of your choice. If the company wants an IME performed, you have to go to a doctor it selects. How’s that for independent?
By way of balancing the employer’s power, the law allows you to get a second opinion. You may select a doctor who is not on the company’s list, although you may have to pay for the visit. If the second opinion verifies that you are not ready, you can continue to collect benefits.
At this point, your employer could file a Petition to Terminate, Modify or Suspend Benefits. You can continue to receive benefits until a judge rules on your case. However, as soon as you get notice of the petition, you should contact an experienced workers’ compensation attorney to protect your interests.
For a free consultation on your workers’ comp claim, contact Rudberg Law Offices, LLC.