DO I HAVE TO SIGN PAPERWORK TO SEE THE COMPANY DOCTOR IN MY PENNSYLVANIA WORKERS’ COMPENSATION CASE?
Once you are injured at work, you are required to report the injury to your employer. Once you do that you are usually asked to sign paperwork which could include an accident report and/or a panel physician list. The panel physician list is commonly known as the list of “Company Doctors.” Normally, an employee is required to treat with the panel physicians for the first ninety (90) days after the injury. The employer is not required to have a panel physician list, however if they do it must be posted “. . . in prominent and readily accessible places at the worksite.” The list must also have at least six medical providers including a chiropractor.
If the list exists, the Act requires that it must be signed TWO TIMES in order to be enforceable. If the panel list is not signed twice, once at the time of hire and immediately or as close as possible to the time of the injury, (“as soon as practicable under the circumstances of the injury”), the employer will remain liable for the treatment in question even if the employee does not treat with a panel physician in the first ninety (90) days. Pennsylvania Dep’t of Corrections/State Correctional Institution –Summerset v. WCAB ( Kircher). 805 A.2d 633 (Pa.Cmwlth 2002). In the Summerset case, the Claimant signed the panel physician acknowledgement when she was hired in 1996 but did not again sign it when she was injured in 1999. The Claimant did receive a copy of the panel list at the time she was injured but it was likewise unsigned. As a result the Claimant was not restricted to treating only with the panel list. The Court found that Section 306(f.1)(l)(i) had to be read in conjunction with the Workers’ Compensation Cost Containment Regulations, 34 Pa. Code s 127.755 (C) which dictates that the employer is required to provide the list with an employee acknowledgement of employees rights two separate times. The above reference Code section states:
The written notice to an employee of the employee’s rights and duties under this section shall be provided at the time the employee is hired and immediately after the injury, or as soon thereafter as possible under the circumstances of the injury. If the employee’s injuries are so severe that emergency care is required, notice of the employee’s rights and duties shall be given as soon after the occurrence of the injury as is practicable.
However, if the employee is presented with the panel physician list and the employee refuses to sign, it does not mean that the employer is obligated to pay for their treatment if the employee sees a medical provider who is not on the panel physicians list. 34 Pa. Code s 127.755 (D). So generally, if the employer has a panel physician list you are not required to sign anything to see a panel physician, however, you may have options to see a provider of your own choosing if the employer does not take the proper steps under the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act.
If you have recently been injured at work and you have questions about which doctors you are allowed to treat with under the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act you should speak with an experienced Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Attorney.