Can I use my own doctors for workers compensation medical treatment in Michigan?

Advice on what doctors injured workers can use — and when — under work comp

Access to medical care is one of the most important benefits the Michigan workers compensation law affords. But there’s a lot of confusion for injured workers on what doctors they can treat with and when.

To speak with one of our workmans comp lawyers now, call us at (855) 221-2667. You can also fill out our free consultation form. We can answer all of your questions about work comp medical care and doctors, and there’s absolutely no charge to you.

Q. I’ve been injured at work, what doctor do I see?
A. If you’ve been injured during the course and scope of your employment, your employer or its insurance company must pay for all reasonable and necessary medical treatment.

By law, your employer can select your medical provider during the first 28 days after an injury. You will most likely be seen at an industrial clinic such as Concentra. You may be referred to a specialist.

Q. When can I choose my own doctor under workers comp?
A. According to Michigan workers compensation laws, you have the right to choose your own doctor after 28 days from the start of you medical care.

Be careful treating with doctors recommended by your employer or the insurance company, because of a potential conflict of interest. Doctors recommended by your employer or insurance company may say that you are “not injured” in order to avoid paying you workers compensation benefits.

Q. How do I legally choose my own doctor?
A. Your employer can recommend a doctor, but you have the right to choose for yourself 28 days after the start of your medical care. To do this, give the employer the name of your doctor and tell your employer that you want to treat for your injury.

This can be done with a telephone call, but it’s a good idea to provide the name and address of your doctor in writing, so there is no dispute in the future.

Failure to provide notice of your selected doctor relieves the employer of its obligation to pay medical bills.

This does not apply when your employer has failed, refused, or otherwise neglected to provide you with medical care. You can get reimbursed for these medical bills at a later date.

Even if your claim is disputed, it is still a good idea to tell your employer about any doctors that you are seeing for your injury.

Q. Where do I send unpaid medical bills?
A. You should send unpaid medical bills to your employer via certified mail.

If it is later found that these bills should have been paid, you could be entitled to penalties.

Here’s more information on who pays your workers compensation medical bills.

Q. How do I find the right doctor?
A. You should always treat with your own doctor to avoid a conflict of interest. If your workers compensation benefits are ever disputed, you will need a doctor who will be on your side.

Unfortunately, we have seen many employer-recommended doctors turn on their patients. It has been our experience that a doctor selected by you will be far more likely to support continuing workers compensation benefits.

The best way to find a doctor is by asking for a referral. You can ask your family doctor for help finding a specialist. You can also speak with family and friends. Find someone who has had a similar injury and ask who helped them. The goal should always be to find a doctor who can best help you recover from injury.

The cost does not matter if the treatment is reasonable and necessary.

Q. Can I decide the course of my medical care?
A. Yes. You have the right to decide for yourself what medical care is appropriate.

You cannot be forced into a specific course of treatment if it is invasive or dangerous.

However, if you refuse reasonable medical treatment, you could have your workers compensation benefits suspended. These disputes can be complicated and must be handled on an individual basis.

Q. What should I know about my nurse case manager?
An important concern to keep in mind is that insurance companies try to save money on workers compensation claims. This is especially true when medical benefits are being paid voluntarily, since the cost of health care is so high.

Some insurance companies will hire a nurse case manager to influence your medical care with the hope of reducing medical costs. A nurse case manager should never interfere with the recommendations of your doctor.

It is important to make sure that any nurse case manager assigned to your claim has your best interest at heart and is not just trying to save the insurance company money.

Q. I’ve been asked to see an IME, now what?
A. Employers and insurance adjusters usually send injured workers for “second opinion” exams by an “independent” doctor. This is called an IME, which stands for insurance medical exam, or independent medical exam.

Beware: These “independent” insurance doctors are chosen by your employer or work comp insurance company, and they do not have your best interest in mind. Many IMEs will find “nothing wrong” with seriously injured workers, and then their workers compensation benefits will be cut off.

If you’ve been told to see an “independent” medical examiner, it’s best to speak with an experienced workmans comp lawyer to make sure your rights are protected.

Have questions about your doctors and workers compensation?

Call us at (855) 221-2667, or you can fill out our free contact form.

Our workmans comp lawyers have been protecting injured workers for more than 35 years. We can see to it that you receive the proper medical treatment, and that your workers compensation benefits are protected.

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