Under New Jersey’s workers’ compensation laws, the employer often has the right to pick the injured workers’ doctor. This can raise serious questions about the quality of care the person is receiving. However, if you are a federal employee, your rights under the federal workers’ compensation program are different than for other workers. One major difference is that federal workers have the right to choose their own primary doctors. This can have a huge impact on the quality of your care and your ability to recover from your injury.

What Are the Qualities of a Good Workers’ Compensation Doctor?

If you are a federal worker injured on the job, the federal agency that is responsible for paying your workers’ compensation benefits will most likely strongly suggest that you use one of their preferred health care providers. However, agreeing to this would be a big mistake that could significantly hurt your workers’ comp case. This agency has an incentive to steer you toward a physician who will deny your claim or provide the least expensive treatment to reduce the medical costs it must pay.

You will want to exercise your right to choose your own doctor. In doing so, you do not want to pick just any doctor who accepts federal workers’ compensation cases because many of these physicians do not have the experience and knowledge to ensure that you receive all the treatments you are entitled to. In addition, some physicians are unwilling or unable to stand up to the aggressive pressure from the employing agency to reduce the costs of your treatment. You should look for a doctor with the following characteristics:

  • Works for you as a patient and not for the government
  • Has experience working in the federal workers’ compensation program
  • Takes time to listen to your concerns and the story of how you were injured
  • Asks for your written statement regarding your injuries, reads it, and includes important information in his medical report
  • Implements the best practices in providing you with high-quality medical care to help you recover from your injuries
  • Understands the medical documentation required and the need to provide this information in a timely manner under the workers’ compensation system

Tips for Finding a Doctor That Is Right for You

If your own doctor does not participate in the federal workers’ compensation program, you will need to pick another primary physician to treat your workplace injury. You will want to find a good doctor near where you live if possible because it will be more convenient for you. Try the following to find a qualified doctor:

  • Ask your primary physician for a recommendation.
  • Ask for recommendations from co-workers or other people you know who have been injured at work and received medical treatment from a physician who helped them recover quickly.
  • Use a service like the Doctor Finder on the American College & Occupational & Environmental Medicine (ACODEM) website.
  • Use other reputable websites to locate information on possible doctors.
  • Once you have narrowed down your list of potential doctors, you need to check their credentials. The basic requirements are a U.S. accredited medical education, post graduate certification, and an unrestricted current medical license. You should also check to be sure the physician has no record of medical malpractice claims or other offenses. If the doctor has a board certification, that would be a plus.
  • Contact the offices of the doctors you are considering to determine if these physicians have the qualifications and experience to treat your injuries and help you with your workers’ compensation claim.

If you are a federal employee injured on the job, you need an experienced workers’ compensation attorney who understands the requirements of the federal workers’ compensation program. I have been helping workers fight for the benefits they are entitled to for over 20 years. Call me at 877-360-0183 to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation.

Manfred Ricciardelli
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Morristown Workers' Compensation Lawyer