R.S.34:15-64 was recently amended on July 20, 2023, and increases the maximum workers’ compensation fees for evaluating physicians for claimants and expands the circumstances for which physician legal fees are permitted under R.S.34:15-64(1)(a). The bill set the maximum fees of evaluating physicians for claimants for their written reports, whether for need for treatment evaluations or permanency exams, at $1,000.00. This is an increase of $400.00 from the previous $600.00 allotment.
The bill also provides under R.S.34:15-64(3) that a psychologist, nurse practitioner, or licensed clinical social worker who provides psychological treatment may be paid a fee for a report or testimony concerning the treatment provided to the injured worker.
The increase in the fee to $1,000.00 from $600.00 means an increase in the contribution from the carrier when it comes to splitting the petitioner’s exam fees on an Order Approving Settlement, and is likely to be as much as $500.00, up from the customary $300.00 paid by both parties for the $600.00 fee.
In addition, the carrier may now have to contribute to fees owed to the additional practitioners who are now permitted by the amendment to be paid for reports or testimony – namely, the psychologists, nurse practitioners, or licensed clinical social workers.
The remainder of the bill is unchanged. In addition to the new $1,000.00 fee allowed for a physician’s opinion or estimation in a written report in section
Comment: Given the significant increase in the fee allows for a permanency evaluation, it is surprising that the fee for testimony has remained unchanged. The fee increase is an attempt to “level the playing field” since the Respondents often pay much higher fees for their experts.
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