Changes to California’s workers’ comp system: predesignating a physician

Workers' compensation laws are designed to protect both employees and employers when accidents happen. Essentially, the laws are intended to provide compensation to those injured in an accident while avoiding the traditional courtroom setting. Changes are often made to these laws in an effort to help better ensure they offer an adequate level of protection to those who suffer from on the job accidents that lead to workplace injuries.

The California Department of Industrial Relations Office of Administrative Law recently announced one such change. The office approved a rule that addresses how workers can predesignate physicians for workers' compensation related injury treatment.

Predesignation of a physician

Generally, employees who use predesignation do so to ensure they are treated by their primary care physician in the event of an accident. In order to ensure this coverage, the redesignated physician must meet satisfy the following criteria. First, the doctor must have offered some form of treatment to the worker in the past. A yearly visit would likely qualify to meet this requirement. Second, this doctor must have the employee's medical records on file.

The predesignation can be completed in a number of ways, including filling out the requisite form. Once the predesignation is set up, the worker can go to their own doctor if they are injured while working.

More information on the new rules for predesignation

According to a recent press release by the California Department of Industrial Relations, the changes are schedule to take effect July 1, 2014. Key changes include:

  • Changed criteria. In order to choose a physician by predesignation, an employee must provide a written notice to the employer prior to being injured. The employee should also have health care coverage and the physician must agree to offer care.
  • Chiropractic visits. In some cases, an employee can qualify to receive up to 24 chiropractic visits for treatment after an injury. A chiropractic visit is defined as any visit, regardless of whether treatment is performed. This means evaluation and management visits are also included in the total. In some cases, the total number of visits can be extended.
  • Changed forms. Language has been changed on the predesignation forms to reflect these changes.

This is just one facet of workers' compensation law. Those who are injured while on the job should contact an experienced California workplace injury attorney. This legal professional will review the circumstances surrounding your injury and help to better ensure that you receive the benefits you are entitled to.