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Can your employer make you see the company doctor?

Like most of your co-workers, you work hard to do your job every day. If you sustain a serious injury on a barge, rig or boat, though, your employer may not return the favor. That is, your employer may worry more about profits than your overall health. With maritime injuries common in summer months, you must have a strategy for taking care of yourself. 

The Merchant Marine Act of 1920, usually known as the Jones Act, is a comprehensive law that deals with maritime vessels. If you suffer a serious injury when working on the water, there is a good chance the Jones Act applies to you. Even though the Act allows you to see the doctor you choose, your employer may strongly suggest you see the company’s physician. Here are some reasons you should choose your own doctor.

The company doctor may limit treatment 

Working on a commercial vessel can be dangerous. If you sustain an injury, you may never fully recover. Unfortunately, the company’s physician may not prioritize your health. Instead, he or she may provide only minimal treatment. By seeing your own physician, you receive both a proper diagnosis and comprehensive treatment plan. 

The company doctor may rush you back to work 

You may need considerable time to recuperate from your work-related injury. Still, if you are not at work, your employer may have trouble meeting customer demands. While all doctors take an oath to do no harm, your company’s physician may rush you back to work. Returning to the job before you are well may cause you to sustain further injuries. 

The company doctor may be far away 

When choosing a company physician, employers consider a variety of factors. Unfortunately, your convenience is likely not high on your employer’s priority list. If you have to travel a considerable distance to seek medical treatment, you may choose not to go to the doctor at all. Finding a physician closer to your home probably makes more sense. 

While your employer may not like it, you have the right to choose a doctor to diagnose and treat your injuries. Even if you have already gone to the company’s physician, seeking a second medical opinion is likely worth your time. By picking the right physician for your medical needs, you increase the chances of returning to your old self.

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