An investigation team for a major television station in New York reported that many workers were finding it increasingly difficult to find doctors willing to treat a workers’ compensation claim. Lists of doctors authorized to treat workers comp claims were found to be outdated with many or even most of the doctors on the list no longer willing to treat new patients.
The Board has a help line to find workers a doctor but the law itself contains an opportunity for employers. It is a common misconception that the employer can have no role in medical treatment of compensation claims. In fact, the law compels the employer to assist in providing a doctor IF requested to do so by the employee. Furthermore, Sect 13-a(3) of the NY Workers Compensation Law authorizes the employer to transfer treatment if it’s in the best interests of the worker.
Employer In Best Position to Locate Medical Care
Why would an employer want to get involved? Well, the employee is being helped by the employer during a frightening period in which the employee is adrift. The employer, with some small effort, is in a far better position to call the Board and obtain lists of local providers.
A local medical group receiving a call from the employer, will be more likely to take the patient, especially if the employer explains the situation and offers to pay directly for the initial treatment. (Employers are authorized to pay but it must be reported to the carrier. The medical provider then follows the rules for filing medical report.)
Workers Compensation Board Encourages Employer Assistance
The employer need not fear that the Workers Compensation Board will object or interfere. Workers who need help in finding treatment face a critical problem and the Board welcomes assistance from employers.
Is all this a new change in the law? Far from it. This has been in the workers compensation law since its inception in 1914. Have employers ever done this? Rarely, but it deserves to be better known.
Author: Attorney Theodore Ronca is a practicing lawyer from Aquebogue, NY. He is a frequent writer and speaker, and has represented employers in the areas of workers’ compensation, Social Security disability, employee disability plans and subrogation for over 30 years. Attorney Ronca can be reached at 631-722-2100. firstname.lastname@example.org
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