Personal Injury FAQs

Will my health insurance coverage or paid sick leave from work limit my compensation for an accident?

Whether you paid for medical care out of your own pocket or your health insurance covered it is none of a claims adjuster's business. The same goes for whether your lost time at work was covered by sick leave or vacation pay. In fact, it is improper for an adjuster even to ask about such payments. You paid for your health insurance and earned your sick leave or vacation pay; now the insurance for the person who caused the accident has to pay.

Your own health insurance, however, may require that, out of your settlement, you reimburse it for some or all of the amounts it has paid to treat your injuries.

Can I be treated by my own doctor and, if not, can I trust a doctor provided by my employer?

In some states, you have a right to see your own doctor if you make this request in writing before the injury occurs. More typically, however, injured workers are referred to a doctor recruited and paid for by their employers.

Your doctor's report will have a big impact upon the benefits you receive. While it's crucial that you tell the doctor the truth about both your injury and your medical history (your benefits may be denied based on fraud if you don't), be sure to clearly identify all possible job-related medical problems and sources of pain. In short, this is no time to downplay or gloss over the presence of a pain.

Keep in mind that a doctor paid for by your employer's insurance company is not your friend. The desire to get future business may motivate a doctor to minimize the seriousness of your injury or to identify it as a pre-existing condition. For example, if you injure your back and the doctor asks you if you have ever had back problems before, it would be unwise to treat the doctor to a 20-year history of every time you suffered a minor pain or ache. Just say "no" unless you really have suffered a significant previous injury or chronic condition.

If I am initially treated by an insurance company doctor, do I have a right to see my own doctor at some point?

State workers' compensation systems establish technical and often tricky rules in this area. Often, you have the right to ask for another doctor at the insurance company's expense if you clearly state you don't like the one the insurance company provides, although there is sometimes a waiting period before you can get a second doctor. Also, if your injury is serious, you usually have the right to a second opinion. And in some states, after you are treated by an insurance company's doctor for a certain period (90 days is typical), you may have the automatic right to transfer your treatment to your own doctor or health plan with the cost being paid for by the workers' comp insurance company. Because the insurance company is footing the bill, don't hesitate to go to a doctor who specializes in your injury or illness -- even if the cost is great.

To understand your rights, get a copy of your state's rules or, if necessary, research your state workers' compensation laws and regulations in the law library.

DISCLAIMER: This site and any information contained herein are intended for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. Seek competent legal counsel for advice on any legal matter.