If you are a contractor who has been injured on the job while working overseas in Iraq, Afghanistan or on any military base across the world, your case is covered by the Defense Base Act which is an extension of the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act.  At the Law Offices of Gillis, Mermell & Pacheco, P.A., we have a combination of over 43 years of experience in representing injured workers covered by the Defense Base Act and the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act.   Let us put our years of experience and our reputation to work for you today!  Contact us today at mail@gmpcomplaw.com, or go on our website at www.dbalawyers.com and fill out our form on the contact us page, or call us at 305 595 3350.

Here are some very interesting facts and case summaries regarding your right to choose your treating physician in a DBA or Longshore case coming directly from the Longshore Deskbook from the Benefits Review Board.  The Longshore Desk Book is a searchable website which is a public record.  According to the Longshore Deskbook:

Section 7(b) of the Act provides that the “employee shall have the right to choose an attending physician authorized by the Secretary to provide medical care under this Act as hereinafter provided.” 33 U.S.C. §907(b). The section further provides that where the employee cannot make his choice due to the nature of his injury and the injury requires immediate treatment, the employer shall select a physician for him.

Section 7(b) also states the responsibilities of the Secretary, whose authority is delegated to the district directors, to oversee medical care, providing that she shall actively supervise the medical care provided, require periodic reports regarding such care, and determine the necessity, character, and sufficiency of present and future medical care. Under the 1972 Act, the Secretary was authorized to order a change of physicians or hospitals on her own initiative or at the request of the employer if she deems it desirable or necessary in the interest of the employee. The 1984 Amendments retained this language and added to it that the Secretary may also order such a change where the charges exceed those prevailing in the community for the same or similar services or exceed the provider’s customary charges. The subsection concludes by stating that change of physicians at the request of the employee shall be permitted in accordance with the regulations. See 20 C.F.R. §702.401 et seq.

Section 702.403 provides that the employee has the right to choose an attending physician from among those authorized by the Director but may not choose a physician on the list of those debarred. In determining the choice of physician, consideration must be given to availability, the employee’s condition and transportation. In general, 25 miles from the place of injury or the employee’s home is a reasonable travel distance, but other pertinent factors should be considered. See cases digested, supra, regarding reasonable care and distance.

Where the employer has selected a physician in an emergency situation, the employee may change physicians when he is able to make a selection. The change shall be made upon obtaining written authorization from the employer, or, if employer withholds consent, from the district director. 20 C.F.R. §702.405. The Act contemplates severe injury, unconsciousness, or similar incapacity in order for employer to select a physician due to the necessity for immediate treatment. Bulone v. Universal Terminal & Stevedoring Corp., 8 BRBS 515 (1978).

If you have a question about medical benefits and your right to choose your own treating doctor in your DBA or Longshore case, Contact Us today at mail@gmpcomplaw.com, or go on our website at www.dbalawyers.com and fill out our form on the contact us page, or call us at 305 595 3350.

Clifford R. Mermell, Esq.

Clifford R. Mermell, Esq., created the law firm of Gillis, Mermell & Pacheco, P.A. on March 1, 1996. Mr. Mermell has been the senior and managing partner of the firm since its creation. The firm was created to champion the rights of injured workers nationwide. It represents cases under the Worker’s Compensation, Wrongful Termination, Personal Injury, Admiralty and Maritime, Defense Base Act, and Longshore & Harbor Worker’s Compensation Act Laws.


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