5. May a workers' compensation claimant select his or her own doctor?
If your workers' compensation claim has been accepted, the insurance company is entitled to direct and control your medical treatment, subject to certain limitations. If the treatment you are receiving is deficient in some way, you can request a change of physician and ask that the Industrial Commission permit you to treat with another doctor. At the conclusion of your treatment, your "authorized treating physician" will declare that you have reached "maximum medical improvement" or "MMI." Theoretically, this indicates that your injury or condition has improved to full extent possible, and that additional treatment will not serve to further "cure" your injury.
Very often, an injured worker is still partially (or perhaps fully) disabled upon reaching MMI. In such situations, your doctor may issue a "permanent partial disability rating" or "PPD" to the part of your body that was injured. Your PPD rating will be expressed as a percentage (e.g., "10% rating to the left shoulder"). The value of a given PPD rating is calculated by multiplying the injured workers "compensation rate" (2/3 of the workers' "average weekly wage") by a number of weeks that corresponds to the assigned rating. A higher rating is worth a large sum of money. If the insurance company's doctor gives you a low rating, you are always entitled to a second opinion on this rating with a doctor of your choice. It goes without saying that this system can be confusing at first. As previously noted, if you wish to Contact Bowman Law, we can assist you with any questions.