As a workers compensation lawyer in Vermont, my clients often ask me if they can visit their own doctor about their work related injury. Of course it’s only natural for us to want to turn to a doctor whom we know and trust. The answer, happily is YES, you can choose what doctor you see for your work-related injury.
What if my employer says I have to see a specific doctor for my work-related injury?
Some employers will tell you that you must see the doctor they choose when you have a work injury. This true, but only for the first visit. After the first visit, you have the right to see your own doctor, or any doctor of your choosing. And after the first visit with the employer’s doctor, you do not have to see that doctor any more.
What does the law actually say?
Vermont Workers Compensation Rule 4.1100 states that the employer can designate a healthcare facility and/or provider to initially treat an injured worker immediately following a claimed work-related injury. If the employer does this, then the employer or their doctor must also provide the injured worker with a Notice of Intent to Change Health Care Provider (Form 8), which allows the injured worker to change doctors.
Do I have to complete Form 8 – Notice of Intent to Change Health Care Provider?
If an injured worker receives this form, he or she must fill it out and submit it to the insurance company if they want to see their own doctor. If you never received a copy of this form, you should still be able to see your own doctor or a doctor you choose, as long as you tell your employer or the workers compensation insurance company that is what you are doing.
Unfortunately many employers who have a designated doctor do not give injured worker the Form 8, and do not tell employees that they can see a different doctor. But Vermont workers compensation laws are clear that you have the right to see your own doctor or a doctor of your own choice.
What if my employer has an in-house doctor?
Some larger employers, like the GE Aviation plant in Rutland, Vermont, have a medical clinic on site, and require injured employees to see the in-house nurse or doctor. It is not clear how Vermont workers compensation laws would treat this situation. However, the law is clear that you can also see your own outside doctor or specialist in addition to receiving treatment at the on site clinic, and you don’t need to complete a Form 8.
Have other questions about a work related injury?
I am happy to help.