Workers’ Compensation Claims – Do I need to See My Doctor?
Mount Laurel Workers’ Compensation Attorneys
If you’ve been injured in a work-related accident, your employer’s worker’s compensation insurer will likely ask you to see one of their doctors to verify your injuries and condition. While this may seem reasonable and simply part of the worker’s compensation process, don’t assume the doctor who exams you is primarily interested in making sure you are okay and being taken care of. A doctor that works for an insurer is interested in determining if your injuries are due in part to a prior condition or as serious as you claim.
In this capacity, an insurance doctor is in part an agent of the insurer and has an incentive to protect the interests of the insurer. As a result, the severity of your injuries may be questioned or downplayed while your length of recovery shortened by recommendation of the doctor.
Consult Your Doctor | Protecting Your Interest after a Work – Related Injury
Under New Jersey’s worker’s compensation laws, an employer (or the employer’s insurer) can select the doctor you have to see. However, you can elect to consult your own doctor if you tell your employer (or their insurance carrier) that you are under the care of a particular doctor. If your employer requires you to see a particular doctor you should be able to see your own doctor after a certain amount of time has passed or to get a second opinion. However, you may be responsible for any expense incurred in seeing a doctor of your selection.
Getting a Second Opinion | Disputes and Worker’s Compensation Claims
When you see the insurance doctor, you’ll likely be asked a series of questions about your medical history and the accident that injured you. If the insurance doctor has reason to believe your injuries are due completely or in part to a prior condition, you benefits may be reduced or denied altogether.
For example, suppose you suffer from carpal tunnel syndrome after being on the job for a year and a half. The insurance doctor might ask if you’ve ever had trouble with your wrist or arm before. Suppose you play guitar and tell the doctor that you’ve struggled on and off with pain and soreness for a few years. He might conclude that your injury is due to your guitar playing and constitutes a prior condition.
At this point, if your claim is denied or you contest the benefits offered, you’ll have to file a Claim Petition or Application for an Informal Hearing with the Division of Workers’ Compensation. Being prepared with a second opinion from your doctor may provide grounds for honoring or increasing your claim if the court is persuaded by the facts.
Contact Mount Laurel Workers’ Compensation Attorneys Taylor & Boguski
Employers don’t always inform their employees about their rights, nor do they always treat them fairly when it comes to protecting their job and returning to work. If you’ve been injured on the job, it’s important to talk to an experienced workers’ compensation attorney to ensure your rights are protected. To learn more about your rights under New Jersey workers’ compensation laws, contact Mount Laurel workers’ compensation attorneys at Taylor & Boguski.