Injured at Work? What You Need to Know about Medical Care
Injured at work? You might not know some important information about your medical care. In our first in a series on New Jersey work-related accidents, our focus will be on making sure you understand how to secure medical treatment and to make sure it’s paid by the workers’ compensation carrier.
According to the State of New Jersey Department of Labor and Workplace Development, 134,580 work-related accidents were reported in 2015. Of those, a little more than a quarter filed formal Claim Petitions within the Division of Workers’ Compensation. This generally happens for a couple of reasons. Either authorized medical care was denied or there was a potential issue concerning partial or total disability benefits. We plan to go over the latter in a future article in this series.
Medical Care for Work-Related Injuries
Did you know that workers’ compensation insurance is considered no-fault in New Jersey? It doesn’t matter if you slipped at work because you happen to be clumsy (Unless of course you were proven to be inebriated or clowning around on the job). Your employer has a duty to provide you with authorized medical treatment for most accidents that occur at work.
You’ll notice that we used the term “authorized medical treatment.” It’s a term of art frequently used to discuss medical care for work-related accidents. It’s easy enough to understand the basic premise. Since the workers’ compensation is paying for your care, they want some say so.
So, does that mean you have to wait for your employer to send you to a doctor if you’re hurt at work? In some circumstances, it is advisable. But, you’re not expected to sit around waiting for someone to tell you it’s okay to go to the doctor if your foot just got stuck in a machine. And, you’re in danger of losing it.
If you’re hurt while performing work duties, you should immediately report the accident to your employer. For some injuries, they may be able to immediately make a referral to a local clinic or company doctor. However, here’s some information concerning other types of medical care:
- Emergency Room Treatment: If you’re severely injured, your employer will likely arrange your transport to the hospital. But, what if you’re hurt in a car accident while traveling from a customer site to see another client? Chances are the police will arrange your transport. If it’s proven that you were in the course of your employment, your medical bills should be covered.
The problem comes when individuals seek emergency room treatment to supplement their care. First off, the hospital may turn you away. They know the rules about authorized medical care and they want to get paid. That’s not to say you shouldn’t visit the emergency room if you feel there is no alternative.
- Personal Doctors: If you already have a relationship with a physician, there’s a temptation to seek treatment with your family doctor or specialist. The problem is that the workers’ compensation carrier is under no obligation to pay for that treatment. This brings us back to “authorized medical treatment”.
- Authorized Medical Care: We’ve already told you that the workers’ compensation insurance company dictates the direction of your medical care. They may have already supplied your employer with the name of a local clinic they work with for work-related accidents. The insurance company may provide a nurse to oversee your care. In our area, Concentra provides medical treatment for many who are injured at work.
What happens if you are injured at work and refused medical treatment? Or, if you have concerns that there is a problem with the authorized care? That’s when it imperative to discuss your problems with an experienced workers’ compensation attorney. They can discuss the issues with the workers’ compensation adjuster or seek court intervention.