In Part 2 of our 4 part series, "Best Practices for Injured Workers," our Missouri workers' compensation attorneys offer some guidelines related to medical care.
Receiving appropriate medical treatment is crucial. Many workplace injuries cause are extremely debilitating, causing physical limitations and serious pain, and they require extensive and continuous treatment. If you are eligible for workers' comp, and you have reported the injury to your employer (see Part 1 of our series), then your benefits should cover your medical expenses. According to the Missouri Department of Labor, "The employer or insurer is required to provide the medical treatment and care to cure and relieve the employee from the effects of the injury. This includes all costs for authorized medical treatment, prescriptions, and medical devices."
Can I choose my own doctors?
No - not unless you plan to pay your own expenses out of pocket. Workers' comp law affords the employer (or the insurer, on the employer's behalf) the legal right to select any and all health care providers. Be sure that you check with your employer and/or the insurer regarding physicians who treat your injury. If you're not satisfied with the medical care that you're receiving, it might be in your best interests to consult the attorney.
What if I have to travel to receive treatment?
If you are required to see a doctor whose office is located outside the local/metropolitan area of your principal place of employment, your employer is required to pay the "necessary and reasonable expenses" associated with that travel. However, employers will not cover the cost of travel "over 250 miles each way from the place of treatment." If you are not a Missouri resident, your employer can choose a treatment facility within 100 miles of your residence, the location of your injury, or your place of hire.
Do I have to agree to medical examinations and evaluations at my employer's request?
The law does permit your employer (or insurer) to request that you "submit to reasonable medical examinations" while you are on disability. Your employer can request multiple exams if you require long-term treatment, or if you have more than one injury. Similarly, you can be compelled to "submit to appropriate vocational testing and a vocational assessment scheduled by an employer or its insurer." Typically, these assessments are only administered when an injured worker is claiming to be permanently and totally disabled.