Medical Treatment in NC Workers’ Comp Cases
Many NC workers who have been injured on the job have questions about what treatment is covered by NC workers’ comp, how to go about getting the treatment they need, and how long they are eligible for treatment. Below is a summary of some of the most frequently asked questions concerning Medical Treatment in NC Workers’ Comp cases. If you have questions please feel free to call or email me for your free consultation with a NC workers’ comp lawyer.
What Medical Treatment is Covered?
North Carolina Workers’ Compensation law provides that medical treatment “shall be provided by the employer.” N.C. Gen. Stat. 97-25. The courts in North Carolina have interpreted medical treatment in the workers’ compensation context to include any treatment or expense that would cure the injury, lessen the disability, or relieve pain. This includes traditional medical services such as doctor appointments, surgery and medication but may also include items such as an adjustable bed, prosthetics and, in certain circumstances wheelchair accessible housing. Employers have the right to require an employee to submit at a reasonable time and place to a medical examination by a physician of their choice. Employees have the right to request a second opinion with a physician the parties agree on or one appointed by the NC Industrial Commission. The refusal of an injured worker to accept treatment may lead to the suspension of Medical Treatment in NC Workers’ Comp.
Medical Restrictions and Ratings in North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Cases.
In addition to providing treatment, medical doctors assign temporary and permanent work restrictions and rate the injured employee’s level of temporary and permanent disability. Injured employees have a right to a second opinion on permanent disability at the employer’s expense. These medical decisions in turn dictate when or whether the injured employee can return to work and what kinds of work are suitable. Not surprisingly control of medical treatment is one of the most important aspects of a North Carolina workers’ comp case. Employers and insurers frequently deny necessary care or insist on certain medical providers known to be “employer friendly.” Injured employees are entitled to choose their own physician, subject to approval of the North Carolina Industrial Commission. Disputes between the injured employee and the employer relating to medical care are resolved by the NC Industrial Commission.
Nurse Case Managers.
Employers frequently employ nurse case managers to assist them in regulating Medical Treatment in NC Workers’ Comp cases. These nurse managers must be licensed in North Carolina, and must follow the rules set out by the North Carolina Industrial Commission. Employees have the right to a private visit with their physician.
Injured employees in North Carolina are entitled to reimbursement for mileage for travel expenses associated with Medical Treatment in NC Workers’ Comp. This includes mileage reimbursement when the visit is more than 20 miles round trip. Lodging and meals may also be reimbursed at a set rate in certain circumstances. The form to ask for mileage reimbursement is here.
How Long do I Receive Treatment?
Medical treatment in N.C. workers’ comp cases continues for as long as required, so long as there is not a two year lapse in the payment of benefits. Injured employees may avoid this two year limitation by obtaining approval from the Industrial Commission of anticipated future medical needs.