Too many workers who are injured on the job in Maryland believe they have to work with whatever medical provider their employer prefers if they want to file a workers’ compensation claim. Often, when the employee isn’t improving after months or even a year and isn’t happy with the treatment they’re receiving, they feel stuck, believing they have no other options.
In fact, injured workers have the right to choose their medical provider under Maryland workers’ compensation law, so filing a workers’ compensation claim shouldn’t affect your ability to go to a doctor of your choosing and receive treatment that works for you. Of course, as with most issues related to workers’ compensation claims, the reality can be a bit more complicated than that.
In this article, we’ll go over the essential information you need to know about selecting a medical provider for treatment related to your workers’ compensation claim.
Why Choosing Your Medical Provider Matters in a Workers’ Compensation Case
If you’ve been hurt at work and decide to file workers’ compensation claim, your employer will almost always recommend a medical provider for treatment. At this point, many employees feel like they’re obligated to do what the employer says. That’s not the case under Maryland law, however, and it’s usually not in your best interest to follow your employer’s recommendation, either.
Based on many of the cases that we have seen, if you allow your employer to choose your medical provider, then you can expect your doctor to be employer-friendly — meaning that their primary concern will be getting you back on the job as quickly as possible, not necessarily looking out for your long-term health and helping you achieve the best recovery you can.
So what are your rights under Maryland law? In general, you’re allowed to select a medical provider of your choosing; the Maryland WCC doesn’t maintain a list or registry of pre-approved providers, and you can select any qualified physician that you trust to provide treatment for your injuries.
(For longshore and harbor workers, the rules are slightly different — your employer must pre-approve your medical provider of choice in order for the treatment to be covered by workers’ compensation benefits. This doesn’t change your right to select a provider; it only changes the procedures you need to follow when doing so.)
When Employers Fight Your Choice of Doctor, an Attorney Can Help
Even though Maryland law is clear about an injured worker’s right to select a medical provider in workers’ compensation cases, employers rarely abide by the rules. Because they’re often interested in minimizing the value of claims and getting workers back on the job as quickly as possible, they’ll try and dispute your choice of medical provider using any method they can.
Since Maryland law doesn’t allow your employer to fight your claim on the basis of your medical provider, they’ll often take a “back-door” approach and try to challenge some other aspect of your claim. For example, they may claim that the injury you’re receiving treatment for isn’t related to your job or that the treatment itself isn’t related to your on-the-job injury. Once the employer’s insurance company stops paying the medical bills, your physician won’t be able to give you further treatment unless they get approval to do so — or the costs come out of your own pocket.
At this point, many workers’ compensation claimants start to feel like they’re in over their heads. The legal procedures for challenging an employer’s tactics can be confusing to a lay person, and the employer will fight these efforts tooth and nail. Many injured workers feel so frustrated that they simply give up and accept the employer’s choice of medical provider to get on with their lives. Unfortunately, this often jeopardizes their long-term health when the employer’s doctor of choice inevitably rushes them back to work.
Many of our workers’ compensation clients come to see us at this point in their claim, and when they hire us, we immediately file issues (which are formal petitions to the Workers’ Compensation Commission) to see that they receive the medical treatment they need from the provider of their choice.
Once an employer sees that you have an experienced workers’ compensation attorney on your side and knows your attorney plans to stand up for your rights, they may change their position and accept your choice of medical provider — and if that doesn’t happen, we fight aggressively for our clients in court to make sure they continue to get the right care from the doctor of their choosing.
Know the Statutes of Limitation for Workers’ Compensation Claims
In addition to knowing about your right to select a physician for treatment, it’s critical to understand that there are strict deadlines associated with workers’ compensation claims in Maryland. If you’ve been hurt at work, you only have 10 days from the date of injury to notify your employer about the incident and two years to file a workers’ compensation claim. Failing to meet either of these deadlines may exclude you from filing a workers’ compensation claim for your injuries — although, in some cases, it may not.
If you’ve been hurt at work in Maryland, please don’t wait to take action — call the Pinder Plotkin legal team today.
Contact the Pinder Plotkin Legal Team If You’ve Been Hurt on the Job
If you or a loved one has been injured while on the job, please get in touch with the legal team at Pinder Plotkin. Our firm has tried hundreds of cases before the Workers’ Compensation Commission, and other firms frequently refer cases to us because they trust our knowledge and experience in fighting for our clients’ rights.
Don’t let financial concerns keep you from getting in touch with us; our fee policy ensures that you only pay fees and expenses if and when we achieve a recovery on your behalf. To schedule a free initial consultation regarding your case, please call our Parkville offices at (410) 661-9440 or our Bel Air location at (410) 893-9111, or fill out our convenient online contact form today.
The information provided in this website/blog is provided for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.