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Louisiana employers are required to provide medical care to any employee who is injured in the course and scope of their employment. If your employer refuses to authorize or arrange medical care for you, you should get treatment on your own as soon as possible and have your attorney provide your employer with a copy of the billing information. Delaying medical care may cause your condition to worsen unexpectedly, resulting in substantially more time missed from work.

It's also important that you get a written statement from the doctor about your work-status. You may need to specifically ask your doctor for a note that says whether you can go back to work or not. If the doctor releases you to return to light-duty, the note should outline your restrictions and an estimate of how long those restrictions are expected to last. You may need to provide your employer (or their insurance company) with a copy of the note from the doctor before they will begin your Louisiana Workers Compensation income benefits. Additionally, many employers will not allow you to return to come back to work following a job-related injury without a doctor's note releasing you to unrestricted duty.


As a general rule, you're allowed to select the doctor that will be your treating physician. The doctor you select does not have to be included on a list of "approved doctors" maintained by your employer or their Louisiana Workers Compensation insurance company. But the law is very strict and you can easily forfeit your right to pick your own doctor by acting hastily. The Louisiana Workers Compensation Act states:

If the employee is treated by any physician to whom he is not specifically directed by the employer or insurer, that physician shall be regarded as his choice of treating physician.

When the employee is specifically directed to a physician by the employer or insurer, that physician may also be deemed as the employee's choice of physician, if the employee has received written notice of his right to select one treating physician in any field or specialty, and then chooses to select the employer's referral as his treating specialist after the initial medical examination as signified by his signature on a choice of physician form.

                                                * * *
If the employee fails or refuses to sign the form as provided [by the statute], the employer or his insurer shall be entitled to seek an expedited hearing to be held within ten days, and upon order of the court, may suspend medical benefits until such time as the employee complies with [the requirements of the statute]. More: La.R.S. 23:1121.

In addition to selecting your primary treating doctor, you're also allowed to select additional doctors in other medical specialties if the treatment that they provide is medically necessary and applies to your work-related condition. You're usually not allowed to see two doctors of the same medical specialty without first getting the Workers Compensation insurance company's consent. Generally, you've got to have a really good and persuasive reason for wanting to switch doctors. Sometimes it's just more effective to ask your doctor for a referral for a second opinion.

If the insurance company refuses to allow you to switch to another doctor, you should contact an attorney. Your attorney may be able to help you obtain approval from the Louisiana Workers Compensation Court despite the insurance company's initial denial of your request to see a new doctor.

You should expect different types of treatment from each of the three categories of doctors you may see in the course of your Louisiana Workers Compensation claim, including: 

  1. The doctor you selected to be your primary treating physician for your work-related injury.
  2. The doctor who was selected by the Louisiana Workers Compensation insurance company to provide them with a Second Medical Opinion SMO
  3. The doctor selected by the Louisiana Office of Workers Compensation Medical Services Division or the Louisiana Workers Compensation Judge to perform an Independent Medical Examination IME.

Considering the current state of the law, it's wise to consider whether it's prudent to continue treating with a doctor you were sent to by the Louisiana Workers Compensation insurance company. Physicians have very different points of view on the type of care that should be provided to people who were injured at work. They select different types of medical test, medication and consultations with other specialists. They suggest different types of surgeries and sometimes even seem to expect their patients to recover faster or slower depending upon whether or not their injury happened on the the job. Your doctor's opinion about your condition, and the type of medical treatment they offer you, will have a tremendous impact upon the extent of your recovery and the outcome of your case.

Next: What If Your Medical Treatment Is Denied?



David Buie, Louisiana Workers Compensation Attorney and Social Security Disability Attorney, 650 Poydras Street, Suite 1400, New Orleans, LA 70131, (800) 851-9405 / Fax: (866) 702-5297 Representing claimants in:
Alexandria Baton Rouge Bossier City Covington Gretna
Hammond Harahan Harvey Houma Kenner Lafayette Lake Charles
Laplace Marrero Metairie Monroe New Iberia New Orleans
Opelousas Ruston Shreveport Slidell Terrytown

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