Q: Am I allowed to choose the doctor who treats me for my maritime injuries?
You have the right to receive treatment from the doctor of your choice when you’ve been injured in a maritime accident. Your employer isn't permitted to force you to visit a particular physician, or retaliate against you for seeing your own doctor.
Many employers may insist that injured workers visit a company doctor, but doing so is rarely in your best interest.
Seeing the Company Doctor
Many companies maintain a list of preferred physicians, and they may offer incentives to employees to see these doctors. However, these business-friendly medical professionals often resist maritime worker claims. An employer’s physician may be more inclined to look out for the company’s best interests, rather than yours.
Risks associated with treatment by a company doctor include:
- Inadequate treatment. Since the employer only has to pay for treatments recommended by the company doctor, the physician has an incentive to minimize medical bills the employer must pay. This means an injured worker may not receive all of the medical tests he needs, or he might not be referred to a specialist for necessary treatment.
- A premature return to work. When a maritime injury results in missed time from work, a company doctor may clear the employee to return to his job too soon. Since the employer only has to provide maintenance and cure benefits until maximum medical improvement has been achieved, a company physician may feel pressured to prematurely release the worker to return to his duties.
Choosing a Physician
In an emergency, you should accept immediate treatment from any available medical professional. For longer-term care, the Jones Act and most other maritime injury laws permit you to visit the physician of your choice.
A knowledgeable maritime law attorney may be able to recommend the best doctors or specialists for the treatment of your injuries. To learn more, contact the law offices of Steve M. Lee, P.C., by clicking the Live Chat button on this page.