When you are injured on the job, your first instinct is to visit a medical professional. However, there is someone besides yourself and your family who may get a say in which medical professionals you receive treatment from – your employer. If you sustain a work-related injury in South Carolina, your employer has at least some say in who treats it.
Statutes & Case Law
The relevant statutes in South Carolina place the right to choose the treating physician squarely on the employer. This is explained primarily because an employer can nominate a doctor of whose trustworthiness they are assured, cutting down on the risk of fraud. This can also be seen as a positive if a doctor works with others of different specializations – it is difficult to establish a relationship with a physician if a patient is being shuttled back and forth between several offices.
On the other hand, this right being granted to the employer and not the employee can also be negative. If an employee has a malicious employer (or an employer trying to minimize their own liability), they may wind up receiving substandard care – it is not uncommon to hear of employers sending injured employees to a crony in order to overcharge or under-deliver in terms of medical care in order to save money or retaliate for perceived wrongs.
If You Are Unhappy With Your Care
If you are not properly treated by the professional your employer recommends, you are able to seek a second opinion. You may do so at your own cost, but South Carolina law also permits that you may get the insurance carrier involved if need be. Sometimes a simple talk with the carrier will result in your being permitted to see another doctor, especially if the standard of care provided is egregiously unacceptable.
However, if the insurance carrier or your employer objects, but you still require a second opinion, there is another way. You may file a Form 50 with the state requesting a hearing, as is your right, before a Commissioner. Hearings are to settle disputes between employees and their employer’s representative, most often their insurance company. Usually, a ruling issued by a single commissioner will decide the matter, but you have the right (with rare exceptions) to appeal a decision all the way up to the Supreme Court of South Carolina if necessary. This lengthy appeals process is permitted in part to remedy any inequality caused by allowing employers to dictate medical care in the first place; this way, an employee genuinely victimized by a negligent or malicious employer has recourse to ensure that their medical care is provided as it should be by law.
Hire A Dedicated Workers’ Compensation Attorney
Regardless of whether you have an honest and competent employer or not, the process of obtaining workers’ compensation and quality medical care can be difficult and time-consuming. Having an experienced attorney on your side can make a significant difference. The skilled North Charleston workers’ compensation attorneys at Callihan & Syracuse are well versed in these types of cases, and know all the tips and tricks to use in order to give you the best chance of a happy recovery. Contact us today to make an initial appointment.