There are often times when injured workers disagree with their treating physicians, or simply want another doctor’s opinion before having treatment that concerns them, such as surgery or invasive testing. So how do second opinions happen in workers’ compensation cases?
The easiest way is for your treating physician to request the second opinion. If your doctor wants the second opinion, the carrier should authorize it. However, if you want the second opinion, the carrier doesn’t need to pay for it. Often this can be resolved if the carrier also thinks a second opinion is worthwhile. An example is when a treating physician has recommended surgery, but the injured worker isn’t sure that the type of surgery proposed, or even surgery at all, is the best treatment for them.
The most difficult situation is when the injured worker wants the second opinion, and the carrier and treating doctor do not. The injured worker can always get a second opinion if he or she is ready to pay for it themselves. The second opinion can be used in litigation, but if the insurance carrier and the treating doctor don’t agree with the recommendations, there is a risk that the workers’ compensation carrier will never need to pay for the second opinion, or for any treatment that doctor does.
There is also a chance that the second opinion won’t be favorable to you, and then can be used by the workers compensation carrier to say what treatment you can or can’t have. If you want a second opinion, we suggest speaking with your attorney first about how to best go about getting it.