How Long Do I Have to See a Doctor After a Work Injury in Massachusetts?
After an injury, it is important to see a doctor – especially for workplace injuries. Your ability to take time off of work because of your injury and your ability to get medical care covered by workers’ comp. might rely on you having seen a doctor. That often means you should not wait – and you may even have a deadline to follow to see a doctor.
After a workplace injury, workers’ compensation usually covers emergency treatment, so you should see a doctor right away. Further care needs to be scheduled, but a deadline is not necessarily the most important part. Rather, if delaying your care makes your condition worse or leads to more lost time at work, your employer might not cover the treatment.
Talk to one of our Boston workers’ compensation lawyers as soon as you can after a workplace injury. Your attorney can guide you through all legally required deadlines and help you get the care you need to be covered. Contact the Law Office of John J. Sheehan today to set up a free legal consultation. Our number is (617) 925-6407.
How Long Can I Wait to See a Doctor After a Workplace Injury in Massachusetts?
While you may be able to tough it out and go a few hours or days without receiving medical care after a workplace injury, you should not do that. If you were injured in an accident at work and need to get medical treatment, do so immediately. If your emergency care is not closely tied to your accident, your employer might not cover the care or might try to deny that the injury happened at work.
In terms of a Workers’ Compensation or personal injury claim, there are two benefits to seeking medical attention soon after you injury. The first is that not all injuries are obvious or produce symptoms immediately. The severity of an injury might not be understood without a thorough medical examination, and sometimes, pain or long-lasting effects can show up days or weeks later.
The second benefit is tying your injury to the accident. If you wait weeks to see a doctor, an insurance company or defense attorney could argue that your injury was caused by an intervening event or made worse by some other condition – whether pre-existing or something that happened after the fact. For example, if you twisted your ankle on Friday but waited four weeks to see your doctor, a claims adjuster could argue that something occurred during that time to cause or exacerbate your injury.
The same is true for ongoing care; you should always report your injury to your employer and set up additional appointments with the proper doctors as soon as you can after the accident. Any delays in getting the care you need could make your condition worse. That could lead your employer to try to deny you coverage because you made yourself harder to heal by delaying your care. Additionally, you must stick to any scheduled appointments, as missing an appointment or failing to follow through with approved care could be seen as noncompliance. This can lead to further medical coverage being denied.
Delaying ongoing care could also make it seem like your injury was not actually work-related. If you got injured at work, but then waited a few days before telling your employer about it or scheduling an appointment with a doctor, it becomes difficult to tell if your injuries actually happened at work. Even if your injury did happen at work, your employer could try to deny that by highlighting how much time passed and how you could have been injured outside of work in the meantime.
So ultimately, if you need emergency care, you should go right away. Do not go home and then see a doctor later; get emergency care right away from work. Similarly, any follow-up care should be scheduled with an approved doctor as soon as possible, and you should keep all appointments.
What Should You Do if You Can’t See a Doctor Right Away After a Work Injury?
If you were injured at work and need medical care, your employer should allow you to get the care you need right away. Some employers are notorious for trying to get around this by providing first aid at work and hiring nursing staff to essentially bandage people up and get them back to work. These tactics may allow them to dodge reporting the accident to their workers’ comp. insurance. This can save employers money, but it may stop you from filing a workers’ comp. claim – which could be something you absolutely need to get the coverage your injury requires.
If you have any challenges reporting your injury to your employer or getting medical care for an injury at work, talk to a lawyer right away. You may also have a union rep you can speak with at your job site, but you should follow up with a Massachusetts workers’ comp. attorney as soon as you can.
If you work with an experienced Wakefield workers’ compensation lawyer like those at the Law Office of John J. Sheehan, we can put legal pressure on your employer to accept your claim and follow the proper procedures to pay for the care you need. We can also appeal your claim, as necessary, to get your workers’ comp. claim approved and get your medical care covered at the rate it is supposed to be covered.
Can You See Your Own Doctor After a Workplace Injury?
Choosing a doctor is a personal choice. Many people have developed a relationship with their personal physician. However, some employers carry a preferred healthcare provider for workers’ compensation claims. In many cases, even if you decide on your doctor, an insurance company could require that you undergo a second medical examination from a preferred physician.
You have a legal right to be treated by a physician of your choosing. In the end, it is your treating doctor that determines when you are well enough to return to the job. Nonetheless, disputes sometimes occur between employees, their employers, and insurance companies when it comes to selecting a doctor. Our attorneys can assist you in handling these issues in relations to your Workers’ Compensation Claim.
If the doctor that you see does not want to continue treating you if you are pursuing a Workers’ Compensation claim or considering filing a personal injury lawsuit, there is no legal obligation that they must keep treating you. This does happen occasionally because there are specific processes that the medical provider will need to follow as part of your Workers’ Compensation claim.
If you are having trouble finding a medical provider to see you in relation to a work injury and Workers’ Compensation claim, our attorneys may be able to assist you.
Seeing a Doctor Without Workers’ Comp. Approval After an Injury at Work in Massachusetts
If your employer refuses to cover your injury or denies that your injury was related to your job, you might still need healthcare. Ultimately, you should go to the doctor if you are injured or ill, and you should not put your health or safety at risk while waiting to get approval.
In some cases, workers’ compensation coverage might not be available for your job at all. This is common for independent contractors, harbor workers, and certain other workers. If this is the case, you do not need to seek approval from workers’ comp. or from your boss before you get medical care; it’s all up to you. You might have your own insurance that can cover your injuries, such as homeowners insurance or medical insurance. However, you could also be entitled to sue your employer/client for medical care costs and other damages if they were responsible for your injuries.
If you cannot file through workers’ compensation, a lawsuit might be an option to get compensation for medical costs, but you will need to prove the defendant was at fault before a court can make them pay for medical care.
If your problem is that you cannot get a workers’-comp.-approved doctor to schedule an appointment as soon as you need it, check with a lawyer to see if outside care can be approved.
Call Our Workplace Injury Lawyers in Massachusetts for Help Claiming Medical Benefits and Damages
For help with a workers’ comp. claim or lawsuit after an injury at work, contact the Law Office of John J. Sheehan’s Cambridge workplace injury lawyers today. Our personal injury and workers’ comp. lawyers offer free legal consultations to help with your case. Call (617) 925-6407 today.