Even though North Carolina law provides that the employer and its workers’ compensation insurance company is entitled to direct medical care, and is therefore allowed to choose the doctor you go to, you are entitled to a second opinion from a doctor of your choice.
You may not arbitrarily choose to be treated by a doctor of your choice. Once the insurance company chooses your treating doctor, you may not change doctors without a specific order of the North Carolina Industrial Commission. These orders are hard to obtain.
Even though you may not arbitrarily change doctors, you do have a right to an opinion on your condition from a doctor of your choice.
This right to a second opinion usually arises after the treating doctors have determined that you have reached maximum medical improvement and have given an opinion as to the degree of your permanent injuries.
Raughly, NC work injury lawyer Brent Adams says, “The degree of your permanent injury is important and determines how much money you will receive from your injuries. It is at this point that you have a right to go to a doctor of your choice for an independent medical opinion.”
If your doctor’s opinion is different than that of the workers’ compensation doctor, and if you cannot agree with the insurance company on the degree of your permanent injury, a hearing can be held before the Industrial Commission, which will make a determination of your degree of disability.
That is why it is important that you have a right to an independent medical examination and opinion by the doctor of your choice.
Do not confuse the right to a medical opinion from a doctor of your choice with a doctor who treats you. While you can choose a doctor to render an opinion, you cannot arbitrarily choose the doctor who will actually treat you.