By Chris Emrich
As outlined in a prior blog post, the most important benefit available to injured workers is medical treatment for the work-related injury. Treatment must be provided by your employer if it is reasonably necessary “to cure and relieve” the injury. Unfortunately, your employer and its insurance carrier will often fight tooth and nail to avoid providing treatment it deems unrelated, unnecessary, or unreasonable. Even in cases in which some treatment has been provided, the magic phrase in New Jersey workers’ compensation is “maximum medical improvement.” Once your employer’s doctor determines that you are at maximum medical improvement, treatment will be cut off.
What happens if you need treatment or the treatment that has been provided is not sufficient? We can file a Motion for Medical and Temporary Disability Benefits on your behalf. In this situation, we start by making a formal request to the respondent (the name for your employer and its insurance carrier). If the request is denied (or ignored), we can arrange for you to be examined by an independent doctor. If that doctor agrees that treatment is warranted, a Motion for Med/Temp will be filed along with the doctor’s report indicating the specific diagnosis and treatment recommendations.
Once a Motion for Med/Temp is filed, the respondent must file a response within 21 days of the Motion (or 30 days if the Motion was filed along with the initial Claim Petition). If the respondent is going to schedule their own independent medical examination to defend against the Motion, they must have it completed within 30 days of receipt of the Motion. They then have an additional 5 days to obtain their doctor’s report. Although this timeline is rarely adhered to because of the difficulty of getting timely doctors’ appointments, you need an attorney on your side who will fight to make sure your treatment request is heard by the judge in a timely fashion.