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Letting the Insurance Carrier Pick Your Doctor

I had a potential client call me yesterday and cancel our appointment to meet because he said “the insurance carrier told me they would help me find a specialist, so I don’t need an attorney right now.”  He didn’t seem to understand that the insurance carrier might not have his best interest at heart.  He probably still believes in the Easter Bunny and Santa Claus as well.  I guarantee he’ll be calling me sooner rather than later. 

I’m not one of those attorneys that spends all my time slamming insurance companies – they have a right to make money like any other business.  But make no mistake about it, they are for profit companies in the business of making money.  And they make money by keeping the cost of claims down, which means paying you as little as possible in compensation and keeping your medical costs to a minimum.  Their most effective tool at both of these is getting injured workers to treat with the carrier’s preferred physicians. 

The treating physician controls everything in an Arizona workers compensation claim.  Every carrier has hand picked doctors in every specialty that they send a lot of business to and therefore are somewhat beholden to the carrier.  They provide a minimal amount of medical care and release the injured worker back to work oftentimes well before he or she is ready.  At the end of the case, they either give very low percentages of permanent disability or little or no work restrictions to minimize the amount of permanent compensation that the carrier has to pay the injured worker. 

THe only question now is whether that potential client will be calling me because the carrier’s hand picked doctor closed his case out too soon, released him back to regular work even though he can’t do it, won’t provide him medications, or a host of other things that save the carrier money…

Chad T. Snow is an attorney and the founder of Snow, Carpio, Weekley in Phoenix and Tucson Arizona who specializes in workers compensation claims.  He has represented thousands of Arizona’s injured workers.

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