Q: Am I allowed to see my own doctor for treatment of my maritime injury?
When you’ve experienced a maritime injury, you’re entitled to receive treatment from the doctor of your choice. Furthermore, it's critically important that you exercise this right.
The Company Doctor
When you’ve been hurt on the job, you need proof of your injuries in order to receive compensation. This requires you to see a physician, and your employer may encourage you to visit the company doctor. There are a couple of reasons for this:
- The company doctor may try to minimize the medical bills your employer must pay.
- He may also clear you to return to work sooner.
Company physicians aren’t hired to provide the best possible treatment, but to minimize the employer’s liability. This means that the doctor may:
- Provide minimal treatment for your injuries.
- Refuse to refer you to the medical specialist of your choice.
- Encourage you to return to work before you're completely healed.
- Require you to travel long distances for physician or clinic visits.
- Provide information to your employer regarding your medical condition.
- Refer you to other medical professionals who also work for your employer.
Seeing Your Own Doctor
Your employer may encourage or require you to see the company physician, but the Jones Act gives you the right to choose your doctor. If you’ve already visited your employer’s physician, you should see your doctor for a second opinion. If he or she disagrees with the diagnosis or course of treatment provided by the company doctor, you can follow your doctor’s advice.
You Need an Attorney
If you’ve been injured during the course of your maritime employment, you need a physician dedicated to providing the proper diagnosis and treatment. If your employer insists that you visit the company doctor, or retaliates against you for refusing to do so, you should consult a lawyer. An experienced maritime injury attorney can protect your right to treatment by the physician of your choice.
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