Your Essential Guide to Workers’ Compensation Medical Care After an Injury

Workers’ compensation is a safety net of sorts that provides medical care for individuals facing workplace injuries or illnesses. The employer takes on the responsibility of covering medical treatment through a workers’ compensation insurance policy.

Medical care is a huge component of workers’ compensation benefits. Its purpose is to encourage a swift recovery and return to work for injured workers.

Medical Care Covered by Workers’ Compensation Coverage

workers' compensation covers medical care when you're injured at work

Traditional health insurance covers a broader range of medical issues, whether they happen at work or elsewhere. Workers’ compensation is different from traditional health insurance coverage because it addresses injuries or illnesses directly related to the workplace. Workers’ compensation medical care coverage is paid for by the employer. On the other hand, traditional health insurance is provided by private insurance companies. It can be purchased by the employee individually or through their employer.    

Workers’ compensation covers medical care and related costs for injured workers, including:

  • Doctor visits
  • Hospital stays
  • Prescription medications
  • Physical therapy
  • Diagnostic tests (i.e., X-ray, MRI, etc.)

The National Safety Council (NSC) estimates the total cost of work injuries in 2021 was $167 billion. This staggering total includes wage and productivity losses, medical expenses, and administrative expenses.

In Alabama, medical treatment is one of the three main benefits you receive from workers’ compensation. Alabama’s Workers Compensation Act grants you medical treatment for life as it relates to your on-the-job injury. Attorney William Messervy discusses this and the other two benefits in the video below.

Choosing a Doctor for Workers’ Compensation Medical Care in Alabama

In Alabama, the Alabama Department of Labor controls the choice of healthcare provider, according to administrative code 480-5-5-.12. This code states that unless it’s an emergency, the injured employee should seek care from the doctor selected by their employer or employer’s workers’ compensation insurance carrier. This designated healthcare provider will provide the initial treatment and, if necessary, refer the employee to a specialist.

In a nutshell, an injured employee in Alabama who is covered under workers’ compensation must receive treatment from a doctor chosen by the employer.

Who Pays the Medical Expenses and Bills?

The employer or the workers’ comp insurance carrier is responsible for paying the medical expenses and bills linked to work-related injuries or illnesses. The NSC estimates the total cost of medical expenses for injuries in 2021 was $36.6 billion. According to Alabama’s Workers’ Compensation Law, payments should be made directly to the healthcare providers or as reimbursements to the injured worker.

Access to Medical Records, Notes, and Reports

All patients, including injured workers, have the right to access their medical records. Access to your medical records, including notes, reports, and injuries, is important for understanding your diagnosis, treatment plans, and recovery timeline. It is important that you maintain an open dialogue with the physician who is treating you. You should also request copies of all medical documents.

Navigating the dizzying ins and outs of workers’ compensation laws and workers’ compensation medical care can be overwhelming, but understanding what it does and does not cover is key to reclaiming your life and rights. Seek guidance from professionals who can provide a better understanding of your rights and legal options after being injured at work.

In case of a workplace injury, seek prompt medical attention first. However, it’s equally important not to overlook the legal and financial aspects of recovery. To make sure you receive the compensation you deserve, call the attorneys at Timberlake & League for a free consultation.