This morning I had a patient referred from her Doctor who was involved in a fall at her job, sustaining many injuries to her body.
Now, this patient, like many other patients I treat, doesn’t speak much English. After ten years in practice in Manassas, VA, I really get tired of the terrible treatment that non-english speaking workers get when they are injured on the job.
It is typical for the employer of such a person to deny that the employee even worked there! Also, it is common for the employer to intimidate the employee into not reporting the injury at all.
And, even if they do report the injury, and file a claim, then it is common for the insurance adjustor to attempt to control the case–which IS illegal by Virginia Law, but the insurance adjustors break that law in every case I have ever dealt with.
The insurance company profiles doctors and whatever doctor plays ball, that is who they try and refer every case to. By “play ball”, this means that the doctor tells everybody that they are NOT injured, and that they need to return to work immediately.
Today, the patient reported to me on crutches, unable to walk, move, and with a pain level sky-high. Her workers comp-friendly doctor (an actual term used openly by the insurance companies) had of course, told her that she must go back to work!!
Now, I understand that a few people game the workers comp system, but in reality, its a small minority. However, the work comp insurance companies treat every case as if they are scammers, out to fake everybody out. Ten years of experience treating these people, and I can tell you, this is not the case. Most people WANT desperately to return to work.
It is very sad because the insurance adjustors take advantage of the fact that (especially people new to the U.S.) people don’t know the law or the system of worker’s compensation.
This is why I recommend to each patient that they have adequate representation with an attorney that specializes in work accidents. We have very good relationships with local attorneys here in the area, and can help our patients get in touch with one of them when they come into our clinic.
I can tell you what you should do the day of the accident. You need to immediately report the accident to a supervisor or Human Resources person and be certain that they give you a claim number from their insurance company.
After receiving a claim number, you may choose a doctor from either a panel of 3 or more names, given to you from the employer OR, (more commonly), if not given said panel, you can go to a doctor that you choose.
But, the Doctor you choose will now become your “treating doctor” by virginia law, so make certain you have a good, trusting relationship with that doctor, because he will control your case. You would need a referral from the “treating doctor” to see another doctor afterwards.
You do NOT need a referral if you do not already have a treating doctor. You can choose any doctor you like, unless you were given that panel of 3 doctors on the day of your accident. In most cases that I’ve seen, the patient can choose his or her own Doctor.
Yours in Health,
Dr. Steve Lininger