When you’ve been injured on the job, your medical provider has a lot of power over both your health and your workers’ compensation claim. That means it’s important to have a provider that you trust. Otherwise, you can easily end up with a doctor who is more concerned about the company’s interests than yours.
California is more worker-friendly than a lot of other states, so injured workers do have a right to pick their own treating physicians after a workplace injury – but only if they predesignate. Naturally, as with all things related to workers’ compensation, there are rules that have to be followed.
When can you predesignate your physician?
Predesignating your physician does take a few steps. You can choose any medical doctor (M.D.) or doctor of osteopathy (D.O.) who has treated you in the past – but only when:
- You have medical insurance coverage (aside from what is provided through workers’ compensation).
- Your doctor agrees, in advance, to treat you for any work-related injury or illness that you may eventually develop.
- You notify your employer, in writing, about your decision to use your own physician for any future work-related injuries or illness.
In addition, you can predesignate a group of providers (an entire practice) of medical doctors or doctors of osteopathy, as long as they mostly treat patients for conditions that aren’t related to workplace injuries and provide both primary and coordinated care.
It should be noted that, while you cannot choose a chiropractor or acupuncturist as your primary care physician through predesignation, you can switch to one after first seeing a doctor chosen by the workers’ comp claims administrator by using the predesignation process.
Predesignation is a powerful tool for California workers – and making use of this tool is one of the best ways to keep your workers’ compensation claim on track should you ever be injured.