Work Comp, Doctors, and Medical Treatment: The Facts
Workplace injuries put your job, health, and livelihood at risk. Seeing the doctor may seem simple, but the Pennsylvania workers' compensation system has rules about which doctors can treat your work-related injury. We've taken some commonly asked questions and answered them to help you navigate this complex legal system.
These claims can be complicated, and you may need the advice of an attorney. Our law firm can evaluate your case for free when you call 412-394-1000 or submit your information online at the top right of this page.
Frequently Asked Questions
- Do I have to see a company doctor for medical treatment of a work-related injury?
- What happens to my workers' compensation payments if the doctor releases me to light-duty work?
- What if the company doctor releases me to go back to work but my own doctor disagrees?
- What if my own doctor says I can go back to work, but I don't think I can?
- Will I be reimbursed for travel expenses related to medical treatment for my work injury?
- If my doctor says I can't return to my original job, does workers' compensation have to pay to send me to school for job retraining?
If your employer posts a list of company doctors at your place of work, you must see one of these doctors during the first 90 days of treatment. If you don't use a company doctor for the first 90 days, workers' compensation doesn't have to pay your medical bills.
Ninety days after seeing a company doctor for the first time, you may choose your own doctor. You need to tell the workers' compensation insurance company who your new doctor is within 5 days to make sure that your doctor gets paid. But, your employer may request that you still see one of their company doctors once every 6 months.
You can also refuse to allow a representative of the workers' compensation insurance company to be present during examinations with your doctor.
If your company does not have a panel of doctors posted, you may see your own doctor from the very start of your treatment.
If your doctor releases you to light-duty work but your employer does not have a light-duty job available, you can continue to receive your Pennsylvania workers' compensation payments.
If your employer has a light-duty job available for you, the activities needed to perform the job would have to be approved by your doctor. If the light-duty job pays less than what you made before you were injured, you would be entitled to receive partial disability payments.
Even after you return to your job, workers' compensation will continue to pay any reasonable and necessary medical expenses related to your work injury. In addition, your workers' compensation payments may start again if:
- You are laid off
- You are fired without cause
- Your doctor takes you off work again while you are on light-duty work
If the company doctor releases you to return to work, but your personal doctor disagrees, you can refuse to go back to work.
If you do not return to work, your employer will probably file a "Petition to Terminate, Modify, or Suspend Benefits." In this case, under workers' compensation laws in Pennsylvania, you will continue to receive your workers' compensation payments until a hearing is scheduled for a judge to review your case.
If you get one of these letters, and don't already have a lawyer, you should get help from one of our experienced workers' compensation attorneys.
If you do not have another doctor who agrees with you, you risk losing your workers' compensation payments by refusing to return to work.
You usually receive reimbursement only for medical appointments required by your employer or their insurance company.
To receive reimbursement, be sure to:
- Keep receipts for parking and tolls
- Maintain a log of your mileage including the date and destination of each trip
You are usually not reimbursed for traveling to medical appointments that you have requested, including visits to your own personal doctor.
No, your employer is not responsible for retraining you even though you were injured at work.