It is not uncommon for an injured worker to need to relocate during the middle of a workers compensation claim. Workers compensation attorneys are often asked to assist the injured worker in obtaining medical treatment after they relocate. For example, I recently had a client relocate to Colorado. The workers’ compensation defense lawyer basically told me that “they did not have to provide treatment outside South Carolina.” I reminded them of the case Ward v. Dixie Shirt Co. Inc. 223 S.C. 448, 76 S.E.2d 605 (1953) where the injured employee followed the advice of his primary care physician, the doctor initially assigned to claimant by her employer, believed the claimant’s condition required the “most expert neurological opinion” and referred her to an orthopedic surgeon and a neurosurgeon at Emory University in Atlanta. Id. at 453, 76 S.E.2d at 607. The workers compensation insurance company argued that it was not required to pay for a doctor in another state. The South Carolina Supreme Court disagreed stating: “But we find nothing in the Workmen’s Compensation Act restricting the Commission to the selection of South Carolina physicians. We would not be warranted in holding that under no circumstances may physicians from other states be used in workmen’s compensation cases.”
The insurance defense lawyer changed his mind and agreed to provide the injured workers a doctor in Colorado AFTER I referred to this decision. It pays to know the details of the law of workers Compensation.