When a seaman is injured in an offshore accident, it’s not uncommon for it take days to reach shore and get access to good medical care. Some employers take advantage of this delay to attempt to encourage, manipulate or outright order you to see the company doctor for medical treatment. Many injured seamen don’t realize they have a right to their own doctor, or that seeing a company doctor can actually hurt their case. Here’s what you need to know about seeing a company doctor:
Your Treating Physician is Vital to Your Case
Most people, when injured at sea, don’t immediately start thinking about a maritime injury claim. Most people are primarily concerned with getting medical treatment and recovering from the injury. Unfortunately, this is a vital time to be aware of your case for one very important reason: your treating physician can make or brake your maritime injury claim.
When you make a claim, your attorney will rely on supporting documentation from your physician to outline the full extent of your injury, the medical cause of the injury and your prognosis for recovery. If your physician doesn’t do a thorough battery of tests and make a comprehensive diagnosis, your medical records may not reflect the full extent of your injuries. Your records may reflect only superficial injuries, and may completely fail to diagnose underlying issues. For this reason, it’s vital to have a physician that provides complete records that fully document your injuries.
A Company Doctor May Not Have Your Interests in Mind
The problem with seeing a company doctor after a maritime injury case is that the company doctor is typically looking out for the company; not for you. It is not uncommon for a company doctor to do only a quick exam and make an off-the-cuff diagnosis without ordering a full battery of tests or working to discover any underlying medical issues.
Additionally, a company doctor may say that you’re ready to resume work before you’re medically capable, sending you back for light duty work when you’re not yet ready. This can hurt your injury claim, as well as prevent you from receiving the medical treatment you need to make a full recovery.
If you’ve been injured in a maritime accident, beware the company doctor. The safest route is to choose your own trustworthy treating physician.