Court Holds that Employer’s Request for Hearing Did Not Permit Employee to Obtain Treatment from Unapproved Physician

The Georgia’s Workers’ Compensation Act and its State Board of Workers’ Compensation provide parties with specific laws and procedures to follow in Georgia workers’ compensation claims. In a recent Georgia case, an appeals court considered the impact of an employer’s challenge to an employee’s claim on her ability to choose her own treating physician.

In that case, the claimant had been working as a banquet server at a hotel when she slipped and fell, seriously injuring her elbow. She suffered a right elbow fracture and sought treatment through an approved orthopedic specialist. Her condition improved and the doctor authorized her return to work. After she returned to work, however, she experienced severe pain and she subsequently stopped working. Before she left her job, she sought treatment with two other doctors who were not approved by her employer.

After she left her job, the claimant tried to have her workers’ compensation benefits reinstated, claiming that her condition had worsened. Her employer requested a hearing to determine whether she was still entitled to benefits. After the hearing, the judge found her condition had worsened and awarded her temporary total disability benefits. The judge also found the employer’s request for a hearing constituted a controvert of the claim, which allowed the claimant to choose her own treating physician.

The employer appealed, arguing in part that the claimant was not entitled to choose her own treating physician because it did not controvert medical treatment. The appeals court agreed. It concluded that the employer’s request for a hearing did not constitute a controvert of medical treatment. The employer only requested a hearing to determine whether it was liable for benefits, but did not deny the claimant medical treatment. Therefore, the claimant’s award of benefits was affirmed but she was not entitled to treatment from a physician of her choice.

Requests for Hearings

A claimant can request a hearing after the expiration of the time during which an employer can make a timely first payment of income benefits. An employer or an insurer can also request a hearing at any time. The request for a hearing should specify any issues that will be raised at the hearing, and a failure to alert the opposing party of an issue may result in a waiver of the issue at the hearing. After a party requests a hearing, any party can make a formal discovery request, which can include depositions, interrogatories, requests for production, and requests for admissions.

Contact a Georgia Workers’ Compensation Lawyer

When someone is injured on the job, it is one of the most difficult times of their lives. Insurance companies routinely deny claims, delay your access to medical treatment, fail to pay for reasonable medical care and fail to timely issue income benefits when you are unable to work. The law office of J. Franklin Burns, P.C. is dedicated to representing injured workers in Georgia workers’ compensation claims. If you have been hurt in a workplace accident, our experienced Atlanta workers’ compensation attorneys will skillfully lead you through the process of obtaining workers’ compensation benefits. For a free consultation, call us at 404-303-7770 or contact us through our online form.

More Blog Entries:

Court Finds Employee May Receive Workers’ Compensation Benefits After Car Accident Occurring on the Way to Weekend Training, June 5, 2018, Atlanta Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Blog

Employee Obtains Benefits for Back Injury Despite Similar Previous Injuries, June 20, 2018, Atlanta Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Blog