I was injured at work in NJ, do I have to see the doctor my employer told me to go see?

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Answer: Yes, you do. Under NJ workers’ comp law, an employer is responsible for all medical treatment/expenses of the injured worker resulting from the work-related accident. However, the injured worker must treat with doctors his employer chooses, which in all likelihood, are doctors specified by the employer’s workers’ comp insurance carrier. Injured workers cannot choose their doctors; they must see “authorized” doctors.

Related: Injured at Work in NJ? What to Know About NJ Workers’ Compensation

If you do not go to the doctor specified by your employer, the workers’ comp carrier does not have to pay for the medical expenses for that doctor. In addition, you may be personally responsible for all of the medical bills related to your work injury.

However, if you do not feel that you are receiving the medical care you need, a motion can be filed with the court.  A judge will then determine whether you can receive additional or other medical treatment. However, you will need the help of a NJ workers’ comp lawyer to help file a motion.

Many injured workers are assigned a nurse case manager who works with the injured workers to facilitate the necessary medical treatments. Prior to seeing a doctor, the workers’ comp carrier must approve the visit. After approval, the workers’ comp carrier or your nurse case manager will make an appointment for you. You will probably not be able to make the appointment because most authorized doctors will only schedule the appointment after getting approval from the workers’ comp carrier.

As you can imagine, this process can sometimes delay treatment. For instance, an injured worker who fractures his foot sees an orthopedic doctor approved by the workers’ comp carrier and needs to return for a follow-up. However, weeks go by and the injured worker does not hear from the workers’ comp carrier regarding approval for the follow-up appointment.

In the mean time, the injured worker starts to have pain in his foot and calls the doctor to make an appointment.   However, he is told an appointment can’t be made until they receive approval. The injured worker calls the workers’ comp carrier and his nurse case manager multiple times and no one calls him back.

Though the worker may file a motion seeking relief from the judge, he may need immediate medical care. Therefore, the employee may have no choice but to see a doctor he chooses because he needs medical care before getting approval.

If you are having a hard time getting in touch with the workers’ comp carrier regarding your treatment, it is a good idea to get help from a NJ workers’ comp lawyer to make sure you receive the medical treatment and benefits you are entitled to.

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