What about medical treatment when you’re hurt on the job? Who controls?
Here is the actual law as it is written in the South Carolina Code of Laws. We explain what it all means at the end. Keep reading.
SECTION 42-15-60. Time period medical treatment and supplies furnished; refusal to accept treatment; settled claims; total and permanent disability.
(A) The employer shall provide medical, surgical, hospital, and other treatment, including medical and surgical supplies as reasonably may be required, for a period not exceeding ten weeks from the date of an injury, to effect a cure or give relief and for an additional time as in the judgment of the commission will tend to lessen the period of disability as evidenced by expert medical evidence stated to a reasonable degree of medical certainty. In addition to it, the original artificial members as reasonably may be necessary must be provided by the employer. During any period of disability resulting from the injury, the employer, at his own option, may continue to furnish or cause to be furnished, free of charge to the employee, and the employee shall accept, an attending physician and any medical care or treatment that is considered necessary by the attending physician, unless otherwise ordered by the commission for good cause shown. The refusal of an employee to accept any medical, hospital, surgical, or other treatment or evaluation when provided by the employer or ordered by the commission bars the employee from further compensation until the refusal ceases and compensation is not paid for the period of refusal unless in the opinion of the commission the circumstances justified the refusal, in which case the commission may order a change in the medical or hospital service. If in an emergency, on account of the employer’s failure to provide the medical care as specified in this section, a physician other than provided by the employer is called to treat the employee, the reasonable cost of the service must be paid by the employer, if ordered by the commission.
(1) When a claim is settled on the commission’s Agreement for Permanent Disability/Disfigurement Compensation form, the employer is not required to provide further medical treatment or medical modalities after one year from the date of full payment of the settlement unless the form specifically provides otherwise.
(2) Each award of permanency as ordered by the single commissioner or by the commission must contain a finding as to whether or not further medical treatment or modalities must be provided to the employee. If the employee is entitled to receive such benefits, the medical treatment or modalities to be provided must be set forth with as much specificity as possible in the single commissioner’s order or the commission’s order.
(3) In no case shall an employer be required to provide medical treatment or modalities in any case where there is a lapse in treatment of the employee by an authorized physician in excess of one year unless:
(a) the settlement agreement or commission order provides otherwise; or
(b) the employee has made reasonable attempts to obtain further treatment or modality from an authorized physician, but through no fault of the employee’s own, is unable to obtain such treatment or modalities.
(C) In cases in which total and permanent disability results, reasonable and necessary nursing services, medicines, prosthetic devices, sick travel, medical, hospital, and other treatment or care shall be paid during the life of the injured employee, without regard to any limitation in this title including the maximum compensation limit. In cases of permanent partial disability, prosthetic devices shall be furnished during the life of the injured employee or for as long as such devices are necessary.
So what does all this mean? Well, it means an injured worker gets medical treatment but with fairly substantial restrictions. For example, the employer (or their insurance carrier) chooses which doctor you see. They get to manage and control your treatment, even if you disagree with the physician or do not believe they have your best interests in mind. Frankly, most doctors are conservative by nature. And, it often seems they are more concerned with their insurance contract than your particular concerns. Even before making a definitive diagnose, treatment usually starts with “conservative care” (i.e. physical therapy). When that fails, then an MRI or CT scan is finally ordered. When it is learned that the injured worker has something more serious, surgery is scheduled. The result is delayed recovery, and sometimes, additional permanent disability.
At Reeves, Aiken & Hightower LLP, our lawyers are experienced workers’ compensation attorneys. Robert J. Reeves is a former Registered Nurse (RN) who has actually treated patients with the same type of serious injuries he now represents in workers’ compensation cases. Both Robert J. Reeves and Arthur K. Aiken are former insurance defense attorneys who know how to anticipate and prepare for defenses and insurance company tactics. During our twenty-two (22) years each of practicing law, we have successfully handled virtually every type of workers’ compensation injury, including neck, back, shoulder, knee accidents, closed head / brain injury, herniated disks, bulging disks, diskectomy surgery, fusion procedures, arthroscopy, automobile accidents on the job, psychological / post traumatic stress, permanent and total disability claims, and wrongful death. We welcome the opportunity to sit down and personally discuss your case. Compare our attorneys’ credentials to any other firm. Then call us for a private consultation. www.rjrlaw.com