Who does the Judge listen to? Treating versus IME doctors in New Jersey.

In New Jersey, treating physicians’ opinion are given more weight than an IME physicians’ or records reviewers‘ when the treating physician has seen and treated the claimant on multiple occasions.

The New Jersey Supreme Court instructs that when Judges of Compensation review conflicting medical opinions in a workers’ compensation case,

“…opposing medical opinions cannot be considered apart from the factual framework of the entire case. Their probative force must be evaluated by a number of factors. In the process of evaluation, a criterion of recognized significance is the greater opportunity of a treating physician, as compared with a doctor who conducts a single examination in order to become an expert medical witness, to know, understand and decide upon the producing cause of the patient’s condition.”

Bober v. Independent Plating Corp, 28 N.J. 169, 168 (1958), citing Fusco v. Cambridge Piece Dyeing Corp., 135 N.J.L. 160, 162 (E. & A. 1947).

Of course, the treating physician’s opinion can be challenged as contradicted by other evidence, based on subjective complaints, etc., but generally speaking, the Judges of Compensation afford more weight to treating rather than examining doctors.

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Greg Lois is the managing partner of LOIS LLC, a 21-attorney law firm dedicated to defending employers and carriers in New York and New Jersey workers' compensation claims. Greg is the author of a popular series of "Handbooks" on workers' compensation, and is the co-author of the 2016 & 2017 Lexis-Nexis New Jersey Workers' Compensation Practice Guide. Greg can be reached at 201-880-7213 or glois@lois-llc.com