Under the New Jersey Worker’s Compensation Act, an employer has the right to control and direct treatment. This means the employer, usually through its workers’ compensation insurance carrier, has the right to choose the doctor or doctors who will treat you for your compensable injury. These are known as “authorized physicians.” Where a work-related injury has been accepted as compensable, an employer is not responsible to pay for treatment an injured worker obtains on his or her own without authority from the carrier, in most instances. In some situations however, an authorized physician will release an employee from treatment to return to work when the employee does not feel capable of returning to work without additional treatment. The employee should first ask the employer or it’s carrier for more treatment. This request unfortunately will often be denied.
In this situation a decision must be made as to whether an employee is really in need of additional curative treatment as a result of the work related injury. In these situations an employee might consider seeing a family physician for a referral, under his or her private insurance, to a specialist who can examine the employee to determine if additional curative care is needed. If such an examination takes place and an opinion is obtained that the employee needs curative treatment the employee should NOT go ahead and undergo the treatment. The employer should be provided with the new opinion regarding treatment and given the opportunity to provide that treatment. If the employer still refuses then the worker should obtain the services of a qualified worker’s compensation attorney to file a claim and a Motion for Medical and Temporary Benefits in the Division of Worker’s Compensation. Ideally an injured worker should retain the services of an experienced worker’s compensation attorney as soon as possible after sustaining an on-the-job injury so that the attorney is ready to file the necessary pleadings when a question arises regarding treatment or other benefits.