It’s important to make every single doctor appointment if you are being treated for an illness or injury—especially if it’s a work-related illness or injury. Why? Missing multiple doctor appointments can put injured workers in jeopardy of losing their workers’ compensation benefits.
When Injured Workers Become Ineligible For Benefits
Sometimes, an injury or illness cannot be completely treated without multiple doctor appointments. The injured worker has a responsibility to go to every appointment so he can recover from the injury or illness and return to work. If you miss multiple appointments, it indicates that you are not taking your recovery seriously. For this reason, the law states that anyone who misses two or more scheduled appointments for treatment is ineligible to receive workers’ compensation benefits.
Exceptions to Ineligibility Rules
It’s important to note that the injured worker will not automatically lose benefits after missing two scheduled appointments. There are two exceptions to this rule listed in 85A OK Stat § 85A-57: valid excuses and extraordinary circumstances.
Missing two scheduled appointments will not make an injured worker ineligible to receive benefits if he let his employer know that he would not make the appointments at least two hours in advance. However, the injured worker has to have a valid excuse as to why he can’t make the appointment. Simply calling to say you won’t be there is not enough.
Missing multiple appointments will also be excused if there were extraordinary circumstances that prevented the injured worker from making it to his doctor’s office. The Workers’ Compensation Commission gets to determine if the circumstances should be considered “extraordinary.” Some examples may include the unexpected loss of a loved one or getting into a car accident on the way to the appointment. These events are obviously beyond your control, so you shouldn’t lose your benefits because of them.
The Issue of Transportation
The law doesn’t go into specifics about what qualifies as a “valid excuse” or “extraordinary circumstance.” However, the law does specifically state that not having transportation to a doctor’s appointment does not qualify as either. For example, you cannot call your employer two hours before an appointment and say the friend that was supposed to drive you to the doctor’s office bailed on you. This isn’t a valid excuse because there are plenty of other ways to get to the doctor’s office besides driving with your friend.
To avoid complications with receiving your benefits, it’s strongly recommended that you do your best to attend every single appointment.
Many injured workers aren’t aware that making this kind of mistake could cost them their workers’ compensation benefits. If you work with our experienced attorneys, we will advise you every step of the way to ensure you don’t make these mistakes. Please call Armstrong & Vaught, P.L.C. today at 918-582-2500, toll free at (800) 722-8880, or contact us online for a free consultation with an experienced attorney.