Can I receive medical treatment for my work related injury?
Virginia Law says that an injured workers employer must provide any and all necessary medical attention that is related to a work accident. It is important to understand that the employee is not responsible for paying for any medical treatment that is ultimately found to be related to the accident and injury. Of course, this assumes that the employer and insurer have agreed to cover the claim and/or that the Virginia Workers Compensation Commission has awarded benefits.
What kind of Medical Treatment can I receive for my injury?
As stated above, Virginia law places the burden of offering medical treatment to an injured worker on the employer. An injured worker can be potentially entitled to a wide range of medical treatment including hospitalizations, office visits with physicians, diagnostic testing like MRI's and X-Rays and surgery. Virginia law is clear: the purpose of providing medical care is to restore the injured worker, to the extent possible, to the injured worker's pre-injury medical status.
How do I obtain medical treatment for my injury?
Virginia Workers Compensation law requires that the employer provide a "panel of physicians" to an employee after the accident. The employer should provide the panel of physicians as soon as possible. If the employer does not provide a panel of physicians an employee may then secure treatment based upon the employee's own choice of physician. How long does the employer have to offer a panel of physicians before an injured worker can chose a physician of their own? This question has been presented to Courts many times. Ultimately, there is no specific time period written in the law, but the Virginia Workers Compensation Commission and the Courts will look at all of the circumstances to determine if the employer provided a panel of physicians in a reasonable time frame. Some examples of what the Courts will look at to determine reasonableness:
1. When did the employer have notice of the accident?
2. Did the employer investigate the accident and, if so, when?
3. Did the employee request medical treatment?
The bottom line is that the employer is required to provide medical treatment. However, many issues arise in determining what treatment is actually required and who gets to decide what treatment is actually covered. This is a complex area of work injury law.