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New Jersey workers' comp: getting a second opinion

When a New Jersey resident visits a doctor, he or she generally expects that a licensed physician will offer a sound diagnosis of a medical problem. Still, there are times when patients may need to obtain a second opinion, whether the underlying issue is a complex illness or not knowing what affliction one really has. In any event, second or even third opinions can offer a patient a more comprehensive view of their own medical situation, empowering that individual to make more sound decisions about the course of their treatment.

When it comes to workers' compensation, though, second opinions can be a bit of a complex topic themselves. In New Jersey, when a worker is injured on the job that person is often covered by their employer's workers' compensation insurance. Typically, the injured worker must go to a doctor whom the insurance company has chosen in order to obtain care. At times, though, the patient may not agree with that doctor's diagnosis or plan for treatment. What does this mean for the injured person covered under New Jersey workers' comp?

There are many different circumstances that can prompt a patient to seek out a second opinion. For workers' comp situations, it may be the case that the doctor claims the patient no longer needs treatment when the patient disagrees, or the physician may recommend a course of treatment that the patient finds overly invasive or dismissive of the injury itself. In general, in New Jersey the injured worker can make a request for a second opinion; however, the patient is not entitled to this additional physician review. It is up to the insurance company to determine if this second opinion is necessary.

Insurance companies have their own agenda and may prioritize cutting costs over thorough patient care. At the same time, a patient returning to work before they are truly ready can jeopardize the worker's health even more. An experienced workers' compensation attorney can untangle the maze of dos and don'ts regarding obtaining a second opinion when the insurance company-selected doctor offers an insufficient plan for recovery. Moreover, a legal professional can also help with general legal advice on workplace injuries, confronting denied workers' comp claims and workers' comp appeals.

Source: The National Law Review, "Think you are entitled to a second opinion under New Jersey worker's comp? Think again," June 29, 2016

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