When you’re injured in an offshore accident, you have a right to select your own doctor for medical treatment. Most of the time, an employer will attempt to send you to a company doctor; the employer may even tell you that you are required to see the company doctor or that they’ll only pay for a company doctor. This isn’t true. Under maritime law, you have the right to choose your own doctor, and it’s in your best interest to use a doctor you trust and avoid the company doctor.
Your Doctor vs. the Company Doctor
It’s important to remember that a company doctor doesn’t have your health in mind. He’s worried about the interests of your employer. It’s not uncommon for a company doctor to diagnose superficial injuries or send you back to work on light duty, and the full extent of your injuries may never be known.
If you choose your own treating physician, you can be sure that you get the appropriate medical tests to diagnose your injury properly, and the treatment that has the best chance of ensuring your recovery. A company doctor may not do all of the appropriate tests to fully diagnose your injury, or may send you back to work before you’re ready and further exacerbate your medical problems. When you select your own doctor, you have peace of mind in knowing that this doctor has your health as his first priority - not saving your employer money.
How to Select a Treating Physician After an Offshore Injury
When you select a treating physician, you should choose a doctor who meets a few important criteria:
- You’re comfortable with the doctor;
- The doctor shows interest in your health and helping you improve;
- You select someone who isn’t affiliated with your employer in any capacity.
It also helps to select a doctor who can navigate the complex claims process. Your treating physician may need to testify about your condition if you file a maritime claim, so it’s helpful to find a physician who is comfortable with this process. If you need help finding the right treating doctor, an experienced maritime lawyer can give you some recommendations and help you select the best doc for you.