Choosing the wrong doctor can RUIN your workers compensation case!
When filing a workers compensation claim in New York State you have the freedom to choose your own doctor, but making the wrong choice can hurt your claim or cause you to lose your benefits altogether!
So in this video I’m going to explain what makes a good workers comp doctor and the steps you can take to find yours.
My name is Rex Zachofsky and I became a New York workers compensation lawyer 17 years ago after getting injured on the job. If you’re looking for a lawyer to help you with your claim with New York Workers Compensation Benefits, please give me a call at 212-406-8989 to schedule a free consultation.
We’re also able to assist with Personal Injury Matters, Social Security Disability, and Labor & Employment Issues.
If you get hurt on the job, your first priority should be getting immediate medical treatment. In an emergency you don’t choose your doctor, you just get taken to the nearest hospital and are treated by the first set of hands available. Rest assured that your employer’s workers comp insurance will cover all related expenses.
However, once you are out of immediate danger and starting your road to recovery, New York State Law allows you to choose the doctor you work with so long as they are authorized by the New York State Workers Compensation Board—We refer to this as being “coded”.
If you would prefer working with your primary care physician, simply contact them and ask if they are coded by the Board to handle workers comp cases. Also ask if they have regular experience working with these types of cases, because even a small mistake can result in fewer benefits or losing them altogether.
If you DON’T have a preferred doctor then you can use the database of authorized healthcare providers on the Workers’ Compensation Board website. I’ll include a link to that tool in the description below.
The Board’s website allows you to search for general practitioners as well as specialist services—such as cardiologists, orthopedists, or physical therapists—and you can filter by geographic region to find someone close to you.
Despite the best efforts of the Board, we’ve found that there are sometimes doctors listed that no longer handle workers’ comp claims. But don’t let that dissuade you, just cross them off your list and move on to the next one!
When working with clients I’ll often hear “I want to go to the best knee surgeon for my injury” or “I want the best back doctor.” People understandably want the best doctor they can find—after all they just retained the best attorney in New York state, so naturally, they want the best doctor as well.
Seriously though, there is a myth that doctors who handle worker's compensation cases are not good doctors, and I can assure you that’s not the case!
I know from years of firsthand experience that there are a lot of very good doctors who do workers compensation. I have personally received treatment from worker's compensation doctors and referred family and friends to various doctors who are coded to treat injured workers in New York State.
If you work with a lawyer then they should be able to recommend skilled doctors who are authorized to handle workers comp claims and who will take excellent care of you. And rest assured that if you start working with a doctor and are not satisfied with care you are receiving, you are free to switch at any time.
In my experience people who feel comfortable with their doctor tend to have better outcomes, so don’t hesitate to shop around if you’re dissatisfied!
So how DO you identify the right doctor for you?
As I already mentioned, one of the most important factors is how comfortable you feel working with them. People who feel comfortable with their doctor tend to recover better than those who don’t.
You also want a doctor who understands the link between certain jobs and types of injuries, so they can help prove that your injury was really sustained at work. One of the primary ways insurance companies try to deny claims is by saying an injury occurred off the job, and your doctor’s medical report can shut that down early in the process.
The right doctor also understands the urgency of a work injury claim, and will get your appointment scheduled as quickly as possible. They also have had regular, ongoing experience with workers’ comp cases since being coded by the Board.
That includes a deep familiarity with the required forms to not only prove your injury was work-related, but also maintain benefits over time and optimize any final award for permanent disability.
If you're out of work, you need your doctor to justify your lost time to the court by submitting regular medical reports. And a medical report only supports 90 days of lost time. So you need to see your doctor at least once every three months to maintain ongoing benefits.
That involves filing a lot of forms. Worker's compensation is very form-driven, and we’ve found that doctors who do not practice these cases regularly are generally not familiar with these forms. And if your doctor drops the ball here, it can literally mean the end of your benefits forever!
Even though New York State gives you a lot of flexibility in who treats you, the laws around paying for treatments are a lot more restrictive, and insurance companies interpret the state’s treatment guidelines as conservatively as possible in order to minimize the amount of treatment they pay for.
That’s why it’s important to not only have a skilled doctor you can trust, but also a lawyer who can work with you to get you the treatment you need.
So if you or a loved one have been injured on the job here in New York and would like to set up a free consultation, give me a call at 212-406-8989 today, and together we can get the treatment you need and the benefits you deserve.
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⚠️ IME Search: http://www.wcb.ny.gov/health-care-provider-search/