New Jersey Workers’ Compensation Hearing Procedures
Most workers’ compensation cases result in a settlement between the injured worker, the employer, and their insurer. Settlements can be primarily of two types; settlements for a level of permanency under Section 22 or a full sum settlement under Section 20.
What to do in Case of a Work-Related Illness or Injury
In case of a work injury, you should notify your employer within 90 days without fail. The next step is to consult a work injury attorney who is well versed in workers’ compensation law. He or she will file a claim petition for medical and temporary benefits with the Division of Workers’ Compensation. This needs to be done within a 2-year period and applies for both work-related injuries and occupational diseases.
What Happens Once You File a Claim Petition?
Once a claim is reported it is investigated by the employer and if it is found that the work that you do, contributed to your injury or illness, your employer will compensate you for:
- The cost of necessary and reasonable medical treatment.
- Wage replacement benefits during recovery period
- Benefits for any permanent partial disability / temporary total disability / permanent total disability.
While your claim petition is in the process, keep all records related to the claim such as:
- Claim-related forms
- Accident report if any
- Medical reports, prescriptions, hospitalization records
- Any communication from your employer and their insurer
It is possible that the insurer might try to delay or deny claims, so work with your attorney so that he or she can build enough evidence to substantiate your claim.
You (as well as your employer) can also file for an informal hearing with a Judge of Compensation, where a representative of your employer or their insurer will also be present. Any suggestions made by the judge are not binding on either party. If no agreement is reached then a formal hearing is requested.
A formal hearing may be scheduled several months after the injury has occurred. Here, disputes are resolved and details of the benefit payments are determined based upon factors such as the degree of disability, treatment procedures, permanency, work-relatedness of the injury/illness, and compensation rates.
Hearing Procedures in New Jersey
While medical treatment after a work related injury will be typically covered by your employer or their insurer, receiving other benefits may depend on the claims process which may vary from state to state. In New Jersey, the procedure of hearing is as follows:
- Post medical treatment, your doctor (or employer) certifies that you have achieved maximum medical improvement (MMI). Twenty-six weeks after this you can file a claim petition.
- Once released from medical care, your lawyer will look through your records and ensure your case is ready for either hearing or for discussion of the settlement amount with your employer. This process takes a period of approximately nine months up until the first hearing.
- When a settlement is agreed upon, the case will proceed to the settlement hearing. If not then the case is adjourned for a number of cycles, each cycle being 3 weeks.
- Not all claims go to trial, the ones that do are listed on a 3-week cycle by the Division of Workers’ Compensation.
- Within the 3-week period, or if extended over adjournments to more cycles, the case is eventually closed by judgement from the court, a lump sum payment or, order approving a settlement which is more common.
- The case may also be dismissed without (or with) prejudice.
- Following this, the settlement awards and attorney fees are paid out by the insurer or employer.
This is usually the final step of the entire claims process that you started many months ago. While this may have been a difficult journey, your attorney can be an invaluable partner during this process to make sure you get what you deserve.
The dedicated attorneys at Goldberg & Wolf can help you through the workers’ compensation claim process and hearing procedure if you or someone you know were injured at work. Contact our legal team today at (856) 651-1600 for more information.