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Can I choose a doctor if I am injured at work in Illinois?

Getting injured on the job is something no one expects or feels fully prepared for. Not only are you dealing with your workers' compensation claim, but you want to focus on your health and recovering from your injuries. You want a doctor who you are sure will have your best interests in mind, and one who won't send you back to work before you are physically able and ready to return to work. Does Illinois workers' compensation law allow you to choose your own doctor if you are injured at work?

Fortunately, the answer is yes. Under Illinois workers' compensation law, an injured worker is allowed to choose two doctors to see for treatment related to the injury, and these expenses will be covered by worker's compensation insurance. In addition, any doctor that these two doctors refer you to see do not count as another choice of doctor - they are covered under the same choice of doctor. So, for example, if the doctor you chose refers you to see a physical therapist and a surgeon, these do not count as two more choices you have used.

Your employer will likely have a list of doctors in their network, called the "preferred provider program" that they may ask you to choose from before you see your own doctor. You are not required by law to see a doctor that your employer has chosen. However,opting out of seeing a doctor in your employer's preferred network will count as using one of your choices of doctors. You still have your second choice to use if you want to see your own doctor. You can even see a third doctor of your choice if your employer approves you doing so. Or, you can see as many doctors as you'd like if you are willing to pay for the extra doctor visits yourself.

What kind of medical care will worker's compensation cover?

All medical services related to your injury can be covered by worker's compensation insurance. From first aid at the scene and emergency treatment the day of, to surgery if you need it and follow-up visits to the doctor, anything that helps you heal from your injury is covered.

Here are some common medical services after a work injury that are covered under Illinois workers' compensation law:

  • first aid and emergency treatment
  • surgery and hospital services
  • doctor visits and follow-up visits
  • physical therapy
  • prescription medicines
  • chiropractor
  • faith healer (under certain circumstances)

How should I choose a doctor?

Unfortunately, it is a reality that doctors chosen by your employer will have your employer's best interest in mind and want to send you back to work sooner than you might be ready. This is dangerous, as returning back to work before you are fully healed can aggravate your injury and require you to have surgery again for example, and be unable to work once again. Having a doctor that you trust to do what is best for you is important to a healthy recovery. If you don't know where to start in selecting a doctor, a skilled worker's compensation attorney can help guide you on where to look for a doctor who will get you the care that you deserve.

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