Can I Go to My Own Doctor After a Maritime Injury?

If you have been injured in a maritime accident, do not let your employer force you to see a company physician.

Under the Jones Act, seamen who suffer work-related injuries are entitled to benefits in the form of “maintenance and cure,” and in many cases, they can claim additional compensation as well. As an injured offshore worker, in order to recover this compensation, you will need proof of the extent of your injuries. This means seeing an experienced medical professional.

After your accident, your employer will likely try to get you to see the company’s physician for a diagnosis. Your employer may even suggest that you are required to do so. This is not the case. You have the right to see your own doctor for your maritime injury, and it is critical that you exercise this right.

Here’s why:

The Risks of Seeing Your Company’s Doctor

There are a number of risks involved in seeing your company’s doctor. Chief among them is that your company’s doctor is your company’s doctor. Company doctors are not paid to provide comprehensive treatment, but rather to minimize your (and their) employer’s liability. This means that your company’s doctor may:

  • Provide only minimal treatment for your injuries
  • Refuse to allow you to see a medical specialist of your choosing
  • Require you to travel sometimes hundreds of miles to see the company doctor or clinic
  • Require or push you to return to work before you are fully healed
  • Send a rehab nurse to sit in on your exams and appointments with your doctor
  • Provide information about your medical condition to your employer
  • Steer you toward “rehab nurses” and “case workers” who also work for your employer or insurance company
  • Require you to sign a release permitting the rehab nurse to speak with your doctor outside your presence and without your knowledge

None of these may be in your best interest, but they can all be avoided by knowing your legal rights with respect to seeing your own doctor about your offshore injury.

You Have the Right to See a Doctor of Your Choice

The Jones Act gives injured seamen the right to see a doctor of their choice. Hopefully, it is not too late and you can avoid going to your company’s physician. However, if you have already seen your company’s doctor, you still can – and should – see your own doctor for a second opinion. If your doctor disagrees with the company physician’s diagnosis or course of treatment, you can follow your doctor’s advice.

What if My Employer Insists that I See the Company’s Physician?

If your employer insists that you see the company’s physician, you should speak with an attorney about your legal rights. Many employers place protecting their profits above protecting their employees and they will often go to great (and sometimes illegal) lengths in order to preserve their bottom lines.

But, the law is clear: Your employer cannot choose the doctor who treats your maritime injuries, and your employer cannot retaliate against you if you seek independent medical advice.

Speak with an Attorney for Free Today

If you have suffered an offshore injury, the best thing you can do is speak with an experienced maritime attorney as soon as possible. Your attorney will be able to advise you of your legal rights and, if necessary, can stand up to your employer and the insurance adjuster on your behalf. You didn’t deserve to get injured and you don’t deserve to have your employer take advantage of you. To get the help you need, call 1-800-GOT HURT or contact us online today.

Willis Law Firm
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Principal Office - Houston, Texas
5252 Westchester St.
Suite #275

Houston, Texas 77005
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