Thousands of people suffer work-related injuries or illnesses every year in the state of Florida. The workers’ compensation system was established to provide benefits to these workers. Now, if you are injured at work, you can obtain medical benefits in addition to wage replacement benefits through the workers’ compensation system.
But it’s important to know what steps you need to take immediately after an injury to ensure your medical expenses are covered by workers’ compensation. When should you seek medical treatment? Where should you go for treatment? How can a Tampa workers’ compensation attorney help? Keep reading to learn the answers to these questions and more.
What Are Your Rights to Medical Treatment For Work-Related Injuries?
If you are a covered employee who has suffered a work-related injury or illness, your employer is required to provide you with a physician who is authorized to treat your injury. However, your employer is not required to provide this physician until they are notified of your injury.
The law gives you 30 days to report your injury to your employer. If you miss this deadline, you will most likely lose the right to obtain workers’ compensation benefits. But it’s best to report your injury as soon as possible instead of waiting until the deadline is right around the corner. Why? The sooner you report your injury to your employer, the sooner you can start getting medical treatment.
It is important to note that you should never seek treatment from your personal doctor unless authorized to do so by your employer or their insurance company. Your employer’s insurance company must authorize the physician who treats your work-related injuries. If a physician has not been authorized by the insurance company, you may lose the right to obtain workers’ compensation benefits.
What Will Workers’ Compensation Medical Benefits Cover?
The physician will provide all necessary medical care, treatment, and prescriptions related to your injury. The law states that workers’ compensation will cover all “authorized medically necessary care and treatment related to your injury or illness.” This means you will not have to pay for these medical expenses.
Examples of treatment and care that workers’ compensation benefits will cover include:
- Visits to your doctor
- Physical therapy or rehabilitation
- Prescription drugs
- Diagnostic testing
- Hospital stays
- Expenses incurred while traveling to and from pharmacies or medical providers
Your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance coverage will cover 100% of these expenses during your recovery. But this changes once you reach maximum medical improvement.
Maximum medical improvement is the state at which your condition is not expected to improve any further even if you continue to undergo treatment. Once you reach this state, you will be required to pay a $10 co-payment per visit for medical treatment. Your employer’s workers’ compensation coverage will pay for the remaining portion of medical expenses.
What Should You Do If You Need Emergency Medical Assistance?
If your injuries are not life-threatening, you should take the time to notify your employer so they can provide you with an authorized physician. However, if your injuries are serious or life-threatening, you will not have time to wait for your employer to provide you with an authorized physician of their choice.
In emergency situations, visit the nearest emergency room for medical attention as soon as possible. Do not wait for your employer to provide you with the name of an authorized physician.
Once you arrive in the emergency room, make sure you tell the staff that you were injured in the workplace. You will need to give the emergency room staff the contact information for your employer or your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance company. This way, the hospital will know how to process your claim for benefits.
What Should You Do If You Want A Second Opinion?
As previously mentioned, the law does not allow injured workers in Florida to choose their own physicians after suffering a work-related injury. As a result, many injured workers are not satisfied with the physician provided by their employer or their employer’s insurance company. If you are not happy with your physician, it’s important to understand your right to change doctors.
The law states that you have the right to change your treating physician after suffering a work-related injury. But you can only change doctors one time, so make sure you only request a change in physician when it is absolutely necessary.
You must put your request for a new physician in writing and submit it to your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance company. The insurance company is legally obligated to grant you a change in physician within five days from the date they received your written request.
You will not get to pick which physician treats you even if your request is granted. Instead, the insurance company will simply choose another physician to treat your work-related injuries.
What Should You Do If Your Condition Gets Worse in the Future?
Some people find that their condition gets worse after they have already settled their claim for medical benefits with their employer’s insurance company. If this happens to you, it’s important to understand that you will be responsible for all medical expenses incurred after your claim has been settled. This is why it’s crucial to work with an attorney who will protect your rights and ensure you don’t settle until you are fully compensated for your injuries.
Seek Legal Representation From An Experienced Attorney
Seeking medical attention should be your first priority after suffering a work-related injury. After being treated by a physician, it’s in your best interest to seek legal representation from the skilled workers’ compensation attorneys at Carlson Meissner Hart & Hayslett. Our attorneys will guide you through the process of filing for workers’ compensation benefits, protecting your rights every step of the way. We will aggressively fight to ensure you are fully compensated for your work-related injuries.
Take the first step toward securing the benefits you deserve—contact our law office now to schedule a free consultation regarding your case.