Assisting Clients Across California Since 1993

Can I choose my own doctor if I am injured at work?

While it is easy to see how factories and construction sites present job hazards in the form of heavy machinery and many moving parts, even a person who works a desk job can be injured at work if they trip over torn carpeting, strain lifting a heavy box or suffer repetitive stress injuries from typing all day. When we are injured, we often take comfort in knowing that our trusted family physician will be on hand to help us. However, if you are injured at work and are pursuing workers’ compensation benefits, do you have the right to choose which doctor you see for your work injury?

Physician selection and workers’ comp

If you are injured at work, you need to tell your employer as soon as possible. If it is a serious injury, seek emergency treatment. If it is not an emergency, in general your employer will select who will first treat you after you are injured. There are exceptions to this rule. One exception is through pre-designation.


If you notify your employer in writing before you are injured with the name and address of your personal physician, this is known as pre-designation. If you predesignate, you are permitted to have your personal physician treat you as soon as you are injured. This physician should be someone you have seen in the past and has your medical records. You can predesignate a general practitioner, internist, pediatrician, obstetrician-gynecologist or a family practitioner who is your primary care physician. However, you can only predesignate if on the date of your injury you have health insurance for conditions not related to work.

Learn more about workers’ compensation in California

Pre-designation is not the only way you can see your own physician if you are injured at work. The law also carves out certain exceptions for health care organizations and medical provider networks. This post is for informational purposes only and does not contain legal advice. Our firm’s website on workers’ compensation may be a good starting point for those who have been injured at work and want to learn more about this topic.