April 1, 2020

Delays in Medical Treatment: Bad for Your Work Injury Case


When you are hurt on your job, you should not delay seeking medical care.

Your employer and their insurance company will treat your delay in seeking treatment as an “admission” that your injury really is not that severe.  They will fight to avoid paying for medical tests and they will oppose your effort to see a specialist.  Your settlement will likely be negatively impacted.  When an insurance company lawyer deposes one of my clients, one of the first questions asked is “how soon after your injury did you first seek medical care.”

It does not matter if you think that you have a good reason for waiting to see a doctor.  Perhaps you believe that ice packs and a little rest will solve the problem, or perhaps you are concerned about reporting a work injury to a cynical or even hostile supervisor.

  • Our experience has also been that you will have worse results from treatment if you delay medical care. Many times, fast treatment of an injury – especially an injury to your spine or to your weight bearing joints – will improve your chances at a more complete recovery.

In some situations your employer will intentionally (or unintentionally) delay your access to medical care.  They will still use this delay to try to deny your claim.  As a general rule, company owners and floor supervisors hate workers’ compensation claims.  Owners try to discourage injury claims because their insurance costs will go up with every filed claim.  Shift supervisors hate work injury claims because they have production quotas and your unexpected absence makes their job harder.

Your focus needs to be about protecting yourself and your family.  If you allow yourself to be persuaded not to seek medical care when your gut tells you that you have really been injured, you can be sure that your employer will not see your treatment delay in an innocent light.  If your employer can find a reason to controvert (deny) your case, you may find yourself waiting months to collect any money for missed wages, and you may be limited to the emergency room for treatment.

You Do Not Need Permission to Visit a Posted Panel Physician for Medical Treatment

Under Georgia law, every employer with more than 3 regular employees must have workers’ compensation insurance and every employer must have a posted panel of physicians with the names and addresses of doctors you can see at no charge to yourself in the case of a work injury.   Under Georgia law you do not have to ask permission to see a posted panel doctor if you have been hurt on the job.  If anyone tells you otherwise, they are not telling you the truth.

  • If you are not aware of any posted panel, of if the posted panel is not valid, you may have additional rights to seek medical care from a physician of your choice – but you should never independently seek non-panel medical care without the advice of a lawyer.

If you have experienced a work injury and your HR supervisor or an insurance adjuster is trying to convince you not to go to the doctor, or that you do not have the right to seek medical care, don’t wait for your employer/insurer to “do the right thing” – that’s not likely to happen.  Do not expect your HR manager or supervisor to give you accurate advice about your rights under Georgia workers’ compensation law.  Their best interests are usually completely the opposite of what is best for you.

Instead, pick up the phone and call me at 770-351-0801 for guidance about how to pursue your legal right to quality medical care, lost wage payments and all other benefits due you under Georgia law.

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