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Understanding Your Medical Care After Being Hurt on the Job in Fort Lauderdale

Florida’s workers’ compensation rules can be found in Chapter 440 of Florida Statutes.  The rules can be very confusing and difficult to understand. One of the most perplexing aspects is the rules considering your medical care. This is why it’s of utmost importance that injured workers consult with a Fort Lauderdale workman’s comp attorney soon after a work accident to avoid any costly mistake.

woman with bandaged arm signing medical care document after being hurt

Medical Care After a Job is Often Free and Can Last a Lifetime

The main worker’s compensation rule is that if you are injured on the job in Florida you are entitled to seek workers’ compensation benefits from your employer.  Medical care through workers’ compensation is free to the employee.  In fact, Florida’s workers’ compensation rules allow for an employee to keep their claim open for the rest of their life and use the insurance coverage to obtain medical care for whatever injury the employee suffered on the job.

Wage Benefits and Impairment Ratings

Florida rules also require your employer’s insurance company to pay the employee wage benefits if the employer is unable to return to work due to the work related injury.  If your  treating physician says that your injury prevents you from returning to work temporarily the  insurance company is required to pay you 66⅔% of your averages wages.  For instance, if you are earning $400.00 per week prior to your date of accident, and your doctor holds you out of work after your accident, Workers’ Compensation rules state that you are entitled to be paid $300.00 (66⅔%) of your wages.

Once you have finished treating with your authorized doctor, the doctor is required to assign an impairment rating which generally correlates to how severe an injury you suffered and whether you have been left with any permanent restrictions.  The law states that you are entitled to additional money,  called an Impairment Benefit, based upon the impairment rating that you receive.  The insurance company is suppose to pay you this money once you finish your treatment with the doctor.

You Are Allowed to Change Doctors While Receiving Medical Care

One final rule that many people do not know about in workers’ comp is that you can change your doctor while you are receiving medical care.  However, you should change your doctor only after careful consideration. Every worker receiving medical care through workers’ compensation is allowed to change his/her doctor once, and only once.  If you are dissatisfied with the doctor you are receiving medical care from, and you request a one time change of doctor, you may get a doctor that you are more satisfied with, or less satisfied.  You should consult with an experienced attorney to thoroughly discuss the facts of your case, and status of your medical care, before making that decision.  The one time change of doctor is a very valuable rule that injured workers need to evaluate carefully.

Medical Care is Only Covered if You Follow the Rules Exactly

Florida law entitles you to medical care for a covered injury or illness, but it does not guarantee you the right to see your own physician for treatment. You must be examined and receive treatment from a medical provider authorized by the workers’ compensation insurer for that treatment to be covered by workers’ comp. Your employer should have a list of authorized medical providers available.

It is a good idea to seek a medical exam from an acceptable facility as soon as possible after a workplace accident or as soon as you notice symptoms that may have been caused by job duties or exposure to a toxic substance at work. A prompt exam can make it easier to treat the condition and aid in a speedy recovery. Additionally, it makes it harder for the workers’ comp insurance provider to claim that your medical condition was caused by something outside of work.

FAQs About Medical Treatment After an Injury on the Job

It is important to note that workers’ comp medical exams are very different than routine medical examinations. The doctor handling your workers’ compensation exam will be laser-focused on your claimed injuries and will likely be an expert in workers’ comp cases. Also, there is generally no doctor-patient relationship or confidentiality requirement regarding what the doctor can and cannot share with the insurance company, so expect every detail to be made known.

Our workers’ compensation attorney in Florida receives many questions about medical benefits and treatment, particularly once employees realize that they may be required to pay their medical bills on their own if they make a mistake.

What Should I Do if I’ve Already Received Emergency Treatment from a Medical Facility Not Authorized by the Workers’ Compensation Insurance Provider?

An emergency is an emergency, and Florida workers’ compensation rules allow you to receive appropriate care in an emergency room without waiting to locate an authorized workers’ comp provider. However, it is helpful to tell the hospital staff that the injuries occurred on the job and to provide contact information for your employer.

What if I Reported My Injury, But My Employer Won’t Do Anything?

If an employer or workers’ comp insurer will not respond to an employee’s request for medical treatment for a workplace injury or illness, the best course of action is to seek help from an advocate experienced in assisting with workers’ compensation problems. You can contact an experienced workers’ compensation attorney or the Florida Workers’ Compensation Bureau of Employee Assistance and Ombudsman

What Should I Tell My Doctor?

While doctors can perform various tests, the best source of information about an injury is the patient’s report on symptoms. For example, doctors need to know how severe the pain is and how the injury or condition restricts your ability to perform different tasks.

When reporting on your condition, the best policy is to be impartial as if you are reporting on someone else’s injuries. Don’t exaggerate (the doctor is highly aware of when patients aren’t being as truthful as they should), but don’t leave out anything thinking you can just tough it out. When in doubt, give more information than you think the doctor may need. Details that seem minor to you could provide the doctor with a significant clue about how to handle an injury. However, it is wise to avoid speculation when you don’t know the answer to a question.

Do I Have to Go to Every Follow-Up Appointment?

Our  attorneys know it is crucial for injured workers to continue with treatment and follow-up appointments in accordance with the doctor’s instructions. Skipping appointments could lead to a cancellation of benefits or could make it easier for an insurer to deny benefits altogether.

What Should I Do If I Receive a Bill for Treatment?

Workers who receive a bill for medical treatment that should be covered by workers’ compensation medical benefits are advised to contact the workers’ comp insurer or the Bureau of Employee Assistance. Your workers’ compensation lawyer will assist with ensuring that your bills are appropriately covered.

Discuss Your Worker’s Compensation Treatment Options with the Maus Law Firm

Medical care often leads to questions and concerns for injured workers. Some issues may arise once you’ve started your claim. Before you make a decision that could reduce your potential compensation, contact a worker’s compensation attorney at the Maus Law Firm today.

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