If you were recently injured on the job in California and require medical care to recover, you are probably wondering if you can visit your own doctors for treatment.
Understanding what California workers’ compensation law says about choosing your own doctor can help you obtain adequate care and minimize out-of-pocket costs.
How do California employers handle workers’ compensation care?
In California, employers typically have a network of doctors they or their workers’ compensation insurance company have approved to provide care to injured employees and you must visit someone within this network for care.
When can I see my own doctor for treatment?
There are some circumstances under which you can see your own doctor for treatment and some are easier than others.
The simplest way to ensure that you can see your own doctor is to fill out a pre-designation care form with your employer, which allows you to select the doctor you want to visit if you are ever injured on the job. If you already have a form on file with your employer, they must allow you to see the doctor you have chosen. If they failed to inform you of this option or refuse to accept its terms, you can still visit your doctor under California law.
Separate from the circumstances outlined above, California law only allows you to see the doctor of your choosing once you have visited three employer-appointed physicians. In other words, if you feel that the appointed doctors have not provided you with thorough care or are dishonestly siding with your employer, you can request new referrals until you are able to see your own physician.
It helps to have a basic understanding of California workers’ compensation laws, as they can be difficult to navigate when seeking medical treatment.