Sometimes, injured workers have questions regarding authorized or unauthorized medical care. N.J.S.A. 34:15-15 of the New Jersey Workers’ Compensation Act provides that, “The employer shall furnish to the injured worker such medical, surgical, and other treatment, and hospital service as shall be necessary to cure and relieve the worker of the effects of the injury.” The case of Benson vs. Coca Cola Co. addresses the issue of unauthorized medical care.
In the Benson case, the employee was examined by the workers’ compensation carrier’s physician. The employee subsequently sought out medical treatment from another physician, without the workers’ compensation carrier’s authorization, and then sought reimbursement from the carrier for the medical expenses. The workers’ compensation court found against the employee, holding that N.J. Stat. Ann. § 34:15-15 did not give discretion to the injured employee to seek independent medical assistance, thus the outside medical treatment and hospitalization was unauthorized.