You might be wondering what your workers’ compensation benefits offer in terms of taking time off for medical appointments in a workers’ compensation injury case or if you can consult with your own doctor for treatment. These are valid concerns whose answers depend on your employer’s injury compensation policy.
In typical situations, injured workers in South Carolina must be compensated for the time spent waiting and receiving medical care if it’s during work hours. Some employers have a strict sick leave policy and will refer you to adhere to it in order to remain employed.
The best course of action is to verify medical time off compensation with your employer. The following information will assist you in having a knowledgeable conversation with your company regarding South Carolina workers’ compensation law and your legal alternatives.
Regulation that Protects an Injured Worker’s Ability to Receive Pay After a Work-Related Injury
The Fair Labor Standards Act regulation 29 CFR 785.43 lays out the following guidelines:
“Time spent by an employee in waiting for and receiving medical attention on the premises or at the direction of the employer during the employee’s normal working hours on days when he is working constitutes hours worked.”
As an injured worker, you must be compensated for the time spent waiting and receiving medical care. This situation typically occurs the day that you get hurt, with the expectation to get medical assistance that day.
Do You Have to Use Personal Vacation Time for Medical Appointments?
An injured worker shouldn’t be required to spend their vacation time for a medical appointment to treat an injury sustained at work. Emergency room visits made immediately after an injury are frequently considered regular work hours. If your company is attempting to force you to spend vacation time for injury care, speak with an attorney to go over your options.
South Carolina’s Workers’ Compensation: Doctor’s Visits Covered as Paid vs. Unpaid
If your company requires you to see a specific doctor, potentially at a predetermined time, and regularly as a condition of continued employment then you will be compensated.
Your employer or its workers’ compensation insurance has the authority to choose the medical practitioner from whom you obtain treatment under South Carolina law. Workers’ compensation benefits will cover that provider. So,if you go to your primary care physician for a first exam for a probable work injury, your employer is not obligated to pay for the appointment or the time off.
Selecting Your Own Doctor After Suffering a Work-Related Injury
In South Carolina, the treating physician may be selected by your employer. If you get care from a doctor of your choosing, your job’s representative could decide not to pay your medical expenditures for work-related injuries.Verifying if taking time off to see your own doctor disqualifies you from receiving paid time off under workers’ compensation beforehand is wise.
Do not presume the recommendation has been authorized if the emergency room refers you for follow-up treatment after your injury needed emergency care. Before making an appointment, get in touch with your employer or a representative of them to confirm that the additional therapy is approved.
If You Want a Different Doctor, Can You Switch to a New One?
If you want to switch providers, you can do so by contacting your employer or the insurance. If your request for a provider transition is denied, you may request a hearing with the South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Commission. You can present your case to a commissioner, who may require your employer or its insurer to allow you to switch providers.
Compensation for Driving Time and Distance to the Medical Facility
If you are required to see a provider or seek treatment at a facility that is more than 10 miles away from your home, South Carolina workers’ compensation law requires that you be reimbursed for the time off to the medical appointment and the cost of your transportation at a per-mile rate set by the South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Commission.
The Role of Your Treating Physician
Your medical care will often be managed by one physician who is referred to as your treating physician when you seek treatment that will be paid for by workers’ compensation payments. Throughout your rehabilitation, your treating physician will do a number of activities, including:
- Providing you with referrals to other medical professionals, such as physical or occupational therapists, as well as to specialists such as orthopedic surgeons, neurologists, or pain management specialists
- Approving your absence from work due to illness
- Imposing limitations on your ability to work if you return to part-time or light-duty job while you recover
- Determining the maximal medical improvement for your illness, the time at which you can resume light or full duty, or both
- Determining whether a job accident or occupational disease has left you with any long-term impairments
Your treating physician must first approve any specialty care you need or require before workers’ compensation will pay for it. If your employer chooses the treating physician for your personal injury, then all appointments made while you are receiving treatment for your injury case will be paid time off.
Alternate Solutions for Workers’ Compensation Issues
You can request a hearing or find a workers’ compensation lawyer in South Carolina close to you to learn more about your legal rights if you are denied workers’ compensation benefits when taking time off for appointments, need assistance changing your treating physician, or want a second opinion before returning to work.