When you get injured or sick on the job, you need to do everything you can to get better and get back to work as quickly as possible. However, it is also extremely important that you receive quality medical care, and you need to obtain a thorough diagnosis so that you can receive comprehensive treatment for your work-related injury or illness. Some doctors are better than others, so your choice is important. But, when you need to file for workers’ compensation, how much of a choice do you really have?
In New Jersey, the answer is, unfortunately, “Not much.” In fact, under the New Jersey Workers’ Compensation Law, employers have the absolute right to designate the health care providers who provide diagnostic and treatment services to employees who file workers’ compensation claims. There are a few limited exceptions (e.g., if your employer does not refer you to a doctor in a timely manner, you may be able to see a doctor of your choosing – at least initially); but, generally speaking, if you need to file for workers’ compensation, then you need to see a pre-approved doctor.
Q&A with Our Knowledgeable Lawyers: Seeking Medical Treatment for a Job-Related Injury or Illness
Q: How Do I Find Out What Doctor I Can See?
In order to find out what doctor you can see, you will need to report your injury or illness to your employer. Under New Jersey law, you have up to 14 days to submit your report. However, if you need medical treatment, then you should report your injury or illness right away. When you notify your employer that you have been injured or gotten sick on the job, your employer should provide you with the name of a doctor – or potentially a list of doctors – who you can see for diagnosis and treatment.
Q: What If I Need Emergency Medical Care?
If you need emergency care, you can go to the hospital and obtain treatment without jeopardizing your claim for workers’ compensation benefits. However, you should still report your injury or illness to your employer as soon as you can. Once you do so, your employer has the right to designate a physician for your continued or follow-up care.
Q: What If I Don’t Trust the Doctor My Employer Tells Me to See?
In some cases, employees will find that the care they receive from their workers’ compensation doctors does not meet their expectations. If you believe that your doctor is not providing appropriate care, or if you are concerned that he or she may not have your best interests in mind, you should consult with an attorney promptly. You are entitled to the same standard of care you would receive from an independent doctor, and if you are not receiving this level of care, an attorney can help you enforce your legal rights.
Q: What If I Have Already Been Seeing My Own Doctor for a Pre-Existing Injury?
If you have a pre-existing injury that has been made worse by an accident or WEAR and TEAR at work, you are eligible to receive workers’ compensation benefits. However, your pre-existing injury is almost certain to complicate your claim. Your employer is entitled to choose the doctor who treats your job-related injury, and your medical benefits will only cover the treatment costs associated with your work-related accident or wear and tear injury. In this type of scenario, it will be important to work with an experienced compensation lawyer to make sure you receive all necessary treatment while also preserving your claim for benefits.
Q: What If I Have a Claim Outside of Workers’ Compensation?
If you have a claim outside of workers’ compensation – for example, if you were injured in a vehicle collision or a fall on someone else’s property – you will most likely want to see a doctor of your own choosing. However, in order to collect workers’ compensation benefits, you must see an approved doctor as well. Our attorneys can help you make informed decisions focused on protecting your legal rights and obtaining necessary medical care, and we can pursue all available claims on your behalf.
Get Free Legal Advice about Seeking Medical Treatment for Your Work-Related Injury or Illness
Do you need help recovering from a job-related accident or an occupational illness in New Jersey? You should be able to concentrate on your physical healing and well-being and not have to worry about your employer denying you the benefits you deserve, including the proper medical care.
We encourage you to speak with one of our attorneys at Petro Cohen law firm promptly about your injury to ensure you get all the benefits to which you may be entitled..
The New Jersey workers’ compensation lawyers at Petro Cohen, P.C. have the knowledge, skills, and proven ability to make workers’ compensation work for you. We solve problems. We get results.
Petro Cohen, P.C. has been consistently recognized as one of New Jersey’s leading firms in the area of workers’ comp. The firm received the highest rating by Martindale-Hubbell – the world’s foremost authority on law firm credentials – in Professional Excellence and Ethical Standards and Legal Ability.
In addition to the firm’s stellar reputation, the department head, Frank Petro, is respected locally, regionally, and nationally as a leading attorney in this specialized field. He has been recognized as an outstanding attorney by Best Lawyers® every year since 1995 and by Super Lawyers® every year since 2005. Moreover, he has achieved a rating of “Superb” on the leading lawyer-review website, Avvo®, the highest achievable rating.
Along with Stephen M. Matarazzo, Suzanne Holz Meola, Terri Hiles, Steven Lubcher, and Daniel Rosenthal, our New Jersey workers’ comp attorneys have more than 100 years of combined experience, having successfully handled thousands of litigated workers’ comp cases throughout New Jersey.
To schedule a free, no-obligation consultation at one of our four southern New Jersey offices (Northfield, Cherry Hill, Hamilton, and Cape May Court House) as soon as possible, call us directly at 888-675-7607 or inquire online today.