Getting injured at work is often a stressful and frustrating experience. You may feel completely disempowered by your injury and your experience. You can’t just ignore an injury unless you want to risk it getting worse. Instead, you have to follow the orders of your doctor, which could include rest or missing out on work or favorite activities.
You may have little control over your daily life if your injury keeps you from performing your job or tending to tasks of daily self-care, such as cleaning or grooming. It is natural for people in this situation to look for areas in which they still have influence or control.
The good news for injured workers in Illinois is that they do retain some authority regarding what medical professionals they see. The rights workers have under Illinois law allow them to select their own physician for treatment in a workers’ compensation case.
Illinois has a popular two physician rule for injured or sick workers
Depending on where you work, your initial consultation for your workplace injury or work-related illness may be with the nurse or doctor on staff at your place of work. Unless you require emergency trauma care, it is likely your employer wants you to see the in-house physician or medical professional before seeking external care.
That way, the company can validate that the injury happened on site. They also have documentation from a professional whose credentials they know well and who has a sense of loyalty to the company. However, after diagnosis with a workplace injury or illness, you have the right to select two physicians with whom you would like to work for treatment.
These physicians do not need to have any sort of affiliation with your company. Any other specialists or doctors to whom they refer you will also be covered under Illinois workers’ compensation.
Because the rule technically limits you to two physicians and any other medical practitioners to whom they refer you, you must take great care to select not just a doctor you are comfortable with, but one who is competent to diagnose and treat your condition.
What can you do if your employer tries to choose the medical provider for you?
While it is common to refer injured workers to in-house medical staff for triage and evaluation, that does not mean that your employer has the right to force you to see only that medical professional when you seek care for a work-related injury. After appropriate documentation and diagnostic procedures, your employer no longer has any say about where you seek care or who treats you.
If your employer refuses to work with you regarding your workers’ compensation claim, you may need to take additional steps to stand up for your rights. This is particularly true if they deny your claim because of your choice of doctor. Speaking with an attorney who understands workers’ compensation in Illinois is a good first step for dealing with a contentious employer.