Let’s face it. Sometimes, medical treatment can be scary. Injections and surgeries all come with risks and I can definitely understand someone making the choice to forego certain procedures because they are too risky or maybe because they have a very low chance of success. Whatever the reason, I always tell injured workers DO NOT REFUSE MEDICAL TREATMENT! Even if your mind is made up and you are 100% against whichever procedure your doctor recommends, workers’ compensation does not give injured workers much discretion over what happens with their medical care. Instead, I tell people to buy themselves some time and let the doctor know they will “think about it.”
Why do I say this? Because workers’ compensation insurance is a fickle system and if you tell your workers’ compensation doctor that you will not have the surgery or the injection that he or she is recommending, you run the risk of having your medical benefits terminated. If you refuse treatment, regardless of your reasons why, the insurance carrier will typically take this as a refusal to cooperate with your doctor’s orders and, if you have read through my website, you should already be aware that whatever the doctor says goes! If your medical benefits are terminated for failure to cooperate with the doctor’s treatment plan, it will be VERY difficult to get your medical benefits reinstated without the help of an attorney and some serious legal maneuvering.
By letting the doctor know you will “think about it,” you are not giving a solid answer that can be used against you and you are, thereby, buying yourself some valuable time. Use this time wisely and consult an experienced workers’ compensation attorney who can let you know what your options are and how your decisions about treatment may affect your workers’ compensation benefits.
If you have questions about your benefits or if you would like more information on the Virginia workers’ compensation system, order my book, “The Ultimate Guide to Workers’ Compensation in Virginia” by clicking this link, or call our office today (804) 755-7755.
~Michele Lewane, Esq.