Can You Choose Your Own Doctor in a Workers' Comp Claim in Illinois?

Like so many other people, you probably trust your health to your primary care physician. After all, you have a history with that doctor in specific, so they know your health, body, and treatment preferences better than anyone. Will you be able to rely on them in case you get into a work-related accident, though?

In many states, workers’ compensation rules require a claimant to see a medical provider selected or approved by the insurance company, which makes for some uncomfortable appointments. In Illinois, though, this is not the case. Workers’ compensation claimants are allowed to seek treatment from up to two doctors of their choosing, as well as any additional medical providers they recommend through a referral.

For example, you see your primary care physician, Dr. Montgomery, after hurting your back while working on a construction site. Dr. Montgomery refers you to Dr. Rosa and Dr. Ng for specialist care. Even though you have now seen more than two doctors, you are still within the boundaries of the workers’ compensation rules in Illinois.

What’s more, you can change your mind during your claim if you decide your first choice was not the best. In terms of the previous example, you can choose to stop seeing Dr. Montgomery and select Dr. Pierce instead, who then refers you to Dr. Arlington and Dr. Smith. The point is that you are actually afforded a healthy amount of flexibility when looking for care after a workplace or work-related accident.

Emergency Care is Often Different

You should know that you might not have a choice when it comes to any emergency medical care, though. Illinois workers’ compensation rules typically allow an employer to choose an emergency room or urgent care facility as the main provider for its employees when time is of the essence. That is to say, if you are seriously injured at work and need immediate medical attention, then you can be taken to whatever medical center your employer predesignated without your workers’ comp rights being overshadowed. After receiving initial medical care, you should be able to choose your doctor for follow-up appointments, though.

Along the same lines, there are circumstances in which your employer can first refer you to an onsite medical center or nurse’s station. For example, if you suffer a mild burn injury that seems to be first-degree, then your employee can instruct you to see the company nurse before sending you to an urgent care facility.

Company medical centers have always been in a bit of a legal gray area, though. If you believe that your injuries are worse than what the company nurse has diagnosed, then you should insist on being taken to an urgent care center. Or you should see your own doctor the same day for a second opinion, keeping copies of all medical records to submit with a workers’ compensation claim later.

Take Care of Yourself & Your Workers’ Comp Claim

When you are not sure how best to proceed with your medical care after an on-the-job injury, it never hurts to reach out to a workers’ compensation attorney or law firm for legal guidance. At Leonard Law Group, we offer free initial consultations to people in Chicago and throughout Cook County to help them decide the next step they should take to do what is best for their health and their finances. Our workers’ compensation lawyers have a focus on complicated claims or those that have been denied and now require legal intervention to conclude.

Call (312) 487-2513 today and arrange your no-cost, no-obligation consultation.