Under Iowa law you always have the right to seek medical treatment on your own, but usually it will be at your own expense, unless you are able to win a petition for alternative medical care which is discussed in detail in our Iowa workers' compensation book. Basically, if the insurance company is offering you medical care then you should attend and fully cooperate with the care and treatment they are offering you. If their doctors do not have any further medical care to offer you and you go see a doctor who does have medical care that he or she thinks will help, then you may want to file a petition for alternative medical care. Keep in mind that there are specific requirements to this process and it is usually best to seek the help of a qualified Iowa work comp attorney. Our office handles alternative medical care matters at no additional cost to our clients and we would are willing to discuss your medical care issues if you would like to.
As an alternative to the alternative medical care process, once the company doctor has evaluated you for a permanent impairment rating, you have the right to a 2nd opinion (sometimes called an IME- Independent Medical Examination) with a doctor that you choose. Iowa Code § 85.39 provides that the insurance company has to pay for the one time IME with a doctor of your choice. Here are some tips when have an IME:
1. Choosing the right doctor to conduct the IME is very important and should not be taken lightly. There are both good IME doctors and bad ones so it is important that you choose the right one. Some IME doctors work almost exclusively with the insurance companies and will likely give an opinion in your case which helps them, not you. Unfortunately, there are not a lot of good qualified IME doctors in the State of Iowa. Our office knows who is good and who is bad. Feel free to give us a call to assist you through the IME process here in Iowa.
2. The insurance company should pay for your roundtrip mileage, time you miss from work, the fees associated with both the examination and any testing that your IME doctor orders.
3. If the IME doctor recommends additional medical care to treating your work injuries, then you can proceed with the alternative medical care process to try to force the insurance company to provide you with the recommended treatment.
Choosing the right IME doctor for your case is important and can have a significant impact on both your medical care and the amount of compensation that you receive for your work injury. For more information about the IME process, alternative medical care and the Iowa Injured Workers' Bill of Rights request our book that we offer at no cost, risk or obligation because we have seen lots of injured works make avoidable costly mistakes.