Not only can you choose your own doctor, if you have been injured overseas, we highly recommend that you choose your own doctor! Remember, the insurance company is not really your friend in this situation. The insurance company cannot dictate which doctor you see (although they may try to do so). There are some things to keep in mind, however.
The Defense Base Act is an extension of the Longshore and Harbor Workers Compensation Act, and as such, you do get to choose your own doctor. Even if you have received medical attention where you were injured, that is okay. It does not affect your right to choose your own doctor. Your choice of doctor is not exercised until you get back home. If you are seen by a doctor chosen by the insurance company, you should not sign any paperwork indicating that is your doctor of choice. When you do choose your own doctor, back at home, you need to choose carefully. An experienced Defense Base Act attorney can help you with this, and it is critically important.
Why is the choice of doctor so critical to your case? In these types of cases, your doctor’s opinion regarding level of disability and manner of care is entitled to a legal presumption that their opinion is more credible than the opinion of the doctor working for the insurance company. This can be a decisive factor for your case.
The insurance company does have the right to have their doctor examine you and review your medical records, but you want to make sure your doctor is an advocate for your medical needs and your care. The insurance company cannot force you to treat with their doctor. It is not a good idea to let the insurance company recommend a doctor for your treatment, either. Remember, that doctor’s business comes from the insurance company, so they are more likely to give an opinion favorable to the insurance company.
The best course of action is to consult with an experienced DBA law firm as soon as possible after you are injured and return home. They can guide you as to the best possible course of action to build a strong case, make sure you get the necessary medical care and maximize any benefits to which you may be entitled. Navigating this process can be difficult and confusing, and experienced legal assistance helps the injured worker and their families.