Must I see doctors chosen by the railroad?

May 12, 2006

FELA Update
By Mark Allen
Coordinator of UTU Designated Legal Counsel

I frequently hear about injured railroad workers who are confused by statements made to them by railroad claims department persons or supervisors that if they don’t see doctors chosen by the railroad, their medical bills won’t be paid.

Let’s be clear. You have the right to see a doctor of your own choice.

You have your own insurance plan and can submit payment for the medical bills to your own insurance carrier.

If some railroad official or claims-department person says, “We won’t pay the bills” unless you see a doctor of THEIR choice, it means simply that the claims department will not pay for it.

It does not prevent you from using your own insurance to see a doctor of YOUR choice.

In my experience, hurt workers often are sent to doctors or clinics that the railroad uses on a frequent basis. Many times, such doctors or clinics seem to be more interested in returning the injured worker back to the job than in doing a thorough diagnostic evaluation to determine what injuries the worker might have.

While a speedy return to work is a goal upon which we all can agree, it also is of great importance that a worker have confidence that his or her doctor will pay attention to the worker’s problems, and will make a sincere effort to find out what is causing the pain or symptoms before sending the worker back on the job.

No one wants to risk additional injury or aggravation because a doctor who cares more about getting referrals from the railroad rushes an injured worker back to the job too soon.

Don’t be misled by “we won’t pay for it” statements. If you are not satisfied with the railroad’s choice of doctors or if you don’t have confidence in them, take out your insurance card and go to the doctor of your own choice.