Starting A New Job? Check About Designating Your Doctor For Workers' Comp Treatment

If you've just started a new job, you're going to get lots of paperwork associated with setting up benefits and tax status. You should also get paperwork related to your state's workers' compensation laws. Read through this carefully because it will give you information about whether or not you can see your own doctor if you're injured. If you have the opportunity, you should choose to see your own -- and that means telling the company before anything happens.

State Differences

Workers' compensation laws differ by state, so don't assume that you know what you can do if you've switched states for your new job. You do not have uniform rights. For example, In California, you can see your own doctor for a potential workers' compensation injury if one of two situations applies: Either you give your employer a form stating you want to see your own doctor before anything happens, or you don't have a form on file but were not told by your employer that you had to do that to see your own doctor.

Other states are more restrictive. In Colorado, for example, you have to see the company's designated provider first. Some states allow for a combination; in Pennsylvania, you may have to go to the designated provider for the first 90 days, and then switch to your own.

Doctor Differences

The designated provider is the doctor that your company wants you to see. If you've guessed that the doctor the company wants you to see might be inclined to minimize the costs to your company and find some way to deem the injury as unrelated to work, you're often right. It isn't always the case (there are many great doctors out there who will honestly diagnose an injury no matter who they work for), but your chances of getting a rather biased diagnosis can go up if you use the company's doctor.

There are procedures to follow if you receive different diagnoses. For example, if the designated provider says the pain you have isn't work-related, but later on your own doctor says it is, you may have to have your doctor notify your company's insurance agent in writing, or you might have to file a form with your state's labor department. This, again, varies with each state.

Injuries that are work-related can be devastating, especially if they result in you not being able to work at all. You don't want someone blaming your injury on something you may have done years ago (for instance, if you go to the doctor about new wrist pain, and the doctor blames it on your stint in an office 10 years before your current job). Your own doctor will have a better idea of how your health has been and whether this is really a new problem.

If you have other workers' compensation questions or feel that you did not receive all of the information that you should have when you started your new job, check with a local workers' compensation attorney, like those represented at