Someone who is hurt on the job in New Jersey may be told by their employer that they must be treated by a doctor chosen by the employer’s insurance company.  Why can’t the injured party pick their own doctor, even when out-of-state residents suffer similar work injuries and are able to chose their own doctors?

In New Jersey the Workers’ Compensation Act gives an employer or it’s workers’ compensation insurance company the right to chose the doctor and other health providers who will provide medical care to a worker injured in the course of his or her employment. This has been a part of the law for many years. The reasoning behind this is cost containment. Theoretically, by allowing the employer/insurance company to chose health providers, medical care will be obtained at a lower cost. This was one of the original aims of workers’ compensation laws when originally enacted early in the 20th century.

Before workers’ compensation laws existed, persons injured during the course of employment often went without medical care or disability payments due to the state of civil law at that time. When the workers’ compensation laws were enacted they contained what some have called “compromises;” in return for furnishing medical and disability benefits to workers for on the job injuries, employers were given the right to chose physicians as a means of controlling costs associated with the furnishing of these benefits.

Of course, this applies where the employer provides medical treatment. If an employer refuses to provide medical care to an injured worker after such care has been requested, the worker can obtain treatment on his or her own and seek to have the employer pay for the treatment. It is most strongly recommended, however, that the worker who is being denied treatment seek the services of a qualified workers’ compensation attorney as soon as he or she is denied such benefits. Legal papers must often be filed to obtain treatment and the attorneys here at Stark & Stark are experienced in such matters and look forward to serving injured workers.

Alfred Vitarelli is a Shareholder in Stark & Stark’s Marlton, New Jersey office, concentrating in Workers’ Compensation Law. For more information, please contact Mr. Vitarelli.