If I get hurt at work can I go to my own doctor?

When you get injured at work it can be very stressful.   Unsettling questions may run though your mind:

“Do I have a serious injury?”

Is my injury permanent?”

“Will I be out of work?”

 Often, the last thing you want to think about is dealing with your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance company in order to schedule your treatment. One of the most common questions I get as a certified Workers’ Compensation Law attorney is:

“I’ve gotten hurt at work, can I go to my own doctor?”

In New Jersey, NJSA 34:15.15 allows you to see your own doctor if it is an emergency.  You can also go to the emergency room.  However, as soon as possible after your emergency medical visit you are required to let your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance company know about your injury.  

Did you know that by law the insurance company has the right to control your treatment?  This means the insurance company gets to pick the medical providers and specialists you are allowed to see.  The insurance company does not always have your best interest in mind, but rather is more interested in saving money.

An important fact to remember is the workers’ compensation law does not assign fault to a work injury.  In other words, even if you get hurt at work and it is your own fault, you are still covered by workers’ compensation.  However, one of the trade-offs for you being covered regardless of who caused your injury is that your employer, through their insurance company, gets to pick your doctors.  As long as the insurance is providing you medical care it is difficult for you to switch or change doctors.  However, if the insurance company refuses to provide you with treatment or abruptly terminates your treatment a Motion can be filed with the Court seeking an order to compel the insurance company to provide medical treatment or to reinstate your treatment.

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