One of the most important aspects of any workers’ compensation claim in Georgia is which doctor you treat with. Choice of doctor affects both your treatment course and the value of your claim.
The Employer/Insurer often have their own doctors who regularly serve on panels (the list of doctors you may choose from) and who will generally lean towards the Employer/Insurer – denying treatment, releasing Employee to work etc. On the other hand, there are numerous doctors who will more often give the Employee better and more comprehensive medical treatment. These doctors are almost never on the Employer’s posted panel of physicians.
One of the first things we look at when we have a new claim is whether the panel is valid. Under the law, the panel has to have at least six non-affiliated doctors with no more than two industrial clinics. If there is no panel or the panel is not valid, the Employee gets his choice of doctor. Also, if the panel is not posted or explained to the Employee when injured, the Employee gets his choice of doctor.
Sometimes, a panel can look valid, but on closer inspection it is not; i.e, if two of the six doctors are affiliated it is invalid. Also, the Appellate Division of the Workers’ Compensation Board recently held that a workers’ compensation panel was invalid where the Employer listed an incorrect address for one of the doctors.
Thus, it is very important that the panel be inspected carefully, before an Employee ever agrees to treatment. This is one of the most important aspects of any workers’ compensation claim in Georgia.