Out of the many problems that injured workers face when receiving workers’ compensation benefits is that medical providers often bill the worker either for an entire bill which should go to the insurance company or more frequently a claim balance after receiving payment from the workers’ compensation carrier. Many injured workers have encountered problems with their credit scores when doctors, hospitals and other medical providers have placed their bills into collection when the dispute should have been with the workers’ compensation insurance company. No injured worker deserves to have that happen to them.
On November 19, 2012, Governor Christie signed into law a bill prohibiting charging workers’ compensation claimants for medical expenses. This can either involve payments for treatment which has been authorized by an employer or its insurance company or third party administrator or it can also include claims that had been paid by the workers’ compensation insurance company, or for bills which have been determined by the Division of Workers’ Compensation to be the responsibility of an employer or its insurance company.
Furthermore, in addition to prohibiting medical providers from charging injured workers’ for medical expenses, the bill gives the New Jersey Division of Workers’ Compensation sole jurisdiction over disputing work related medical claims. Our firm is involved now in a case in Superior Court in which we will be asking the Judge to transfer to the Division of Workers’ Compensation to determine responsibility for an ambulance bill. Since the ambulance company had refused to submit the bill to the workers’ compensation carrier, this will provide an opportunity for the matter to be resolved in the appropriate form and the claim against the injured worker dismissed.
Lastly, the new law provides that treatment of an injured worker or payment of workers’ compensation benefits to an injured worker for their dependents may not be delayed because of a claim by a medical provider. This is intended to keep the injured worker from being placed in the middle of a dispute between the workers’ compensation insurance company and the medical provider.
Arthur Kravitz is a Shareholder in Stark & Stark’s Lawrenceville, New Jersey office, concentrating in Workers’ Compensation Law. For more information, please contact Mr. Kravitz.