Many people have a relationship with their doctor. Years of appointments and treatment create a sense of familiarity and comfort. We trust them to take care of us during times of need.
This includes the days and weeks after suffering an injury while on the job – something that happens to tens of thousands of New Jersey workers every year. When workplace injuries occur, victims often wonder: Can I get treated by my own doctor, the one I trust?
Employers pick an authorized provider
Here in New Jersey, the law does not give injured employees much say in which doctor treats them for an on-the-job injury. As the Department of Labor and Workforce Development explains, employers have the right to choose which health service professional provides care to an injured worker through workers’ comp.
This means they get to choose the doctor you see, and will generally do so from a list of authorized providers. The employer, however, is responsible for covering the treatment and care the injured worker needs in order to fully heal. You may be able to request a second opinion from another doctor – but the insurance can generally choose to not pay for it.
A few limited exceptions
There are a handful of narrow exceptions to this otherwise-strict rule. For example, if you need emergency treatment due to a workplace injury, the employer will have to pay those bills.
In addition, if the authorized health professional refuses to provide necessary treatment, an injured worker can file a petition. If approved, an insurer could be required to cover that needed care even if performed by an unauthorized doctor.
Recovering from a workplace injury is stressful enough. It can be physically and mentally exhausting, and you have the added pressure of no longer receiving your full income. We’d all prefer to see our own doctor, but in most cases, workers simply don’t have that right.
If, however, the employer-selected doctor isn’t providing sufficient care, you may want to consider speaking to a lawyer.