Panel or No Panel …That is the Question
Under Georgia law, your employer can maintain control over your medical treatment if they have a valid panel of physicians posted at the time of your accident. What is a panel of physicians? A panel of physicians is a list of at least six doctors from which an injured worker must select his or her authorized treating physician. An authorized treating physician is the doctor who is in charge of providing you with medical treatment and making appropriate referrals to any specialists you may need. The panel of physicians is supposed to be posted in an easily visible location at the workplace and its function should be explained to each employee at some point prior to his or her work related injury. Workers’ Compensation rules require that the panel of physicians be presented to the injured worker when an injury is reported in order for the injured worker to make a valid selection of an authorized treating physician.
Many employers fail to post a valid panel of physicians. The impact of an employer failing to post a valid panel of physicians is that the injured worker is then entitled to select a doctor of his or her choice rather than having to be treated by a doctor selected by the employer/insurer. This is critical in the handling of your workers’ compensation claim. Gaining control of the medical treatment in your claim gives you the best chance of actually receiving appropriate treatment by a physician who will truly advocate for you! The doctors on an employer’s panel of physicians are many times “insurance company doctors” who will push to rush you back to work before you have received the treatment that you need to avoid re-injury.
So how do you navigate these muddy medical waters? First, if you have never seen a posted panel of physicians or if you feel as though the insurance adjuster is telling you rather than asking you which doctor to see, you should immediate seek the advice of an experienced workers’ compensation attorney. We know many medical providers and we can help find the right doctor for you! The selection of a treating physician will drastically impact your workers’ compensation claim in terms of what benefits you will receive and the overall value of your claim.
If there is a panel of physicians posted at your place of employment, take a picture of it and bring it with you to your initial consultation with our office. Do not select a doctor until you have spoken to us. We will be able to immediately determine which doctors on the panel will be the best choice for you. Selecting the right doctor for you is the first and most important step in navigating your case. Our legal team knows exactly what needs to be done to get you the best medical treatment that you need and deserve for your work related injuries.