If you have been injured on the job, you may be wondering about the timeline of your case and what is involved with the hearing procedures in NJ.
The process that ensues can be confusing. While the answer varies on a case by case basis, benefits for medical treatment may be available immediately. Other benefits, such as temporary disability payments to cover lost wages, will not become available until your claim has been approved by a claims examiner. The workers’ compensation laws can be burdensome and take a while to resolve; here’s what you can expect:
Hearing Procedures in NJ: What to Expect
The workers’ compensation statute requires all employees to wait 26 weeks before filing a claim petition with the Department of Labor. This means that after you have undergone therapy and treatment for pain management, you must wait the 26 weeks after you receive a letter from your employer or the treating physician indicating that you are at your maximum medical improvement (MMI) before filing a claim.
After you have been fully released from medical care, a final doctor’s examination will need to be scheduled; these medical records are important to help us evaluate your case. Once we review the evaluation, your case will be ready for a trial hearing or discussing a settlement amount. After the individual is released from medical treatment, workers’ compensation cases are completed within an average of nine months.
When the employer and the employee agree on a monetary settlement, the parties will then proceed before the court for the settlement hearing. However, if settlement cannot be reached on that date, the matter will be adjourned for the appropriate number of cycles.
Cycles for Hearing Procedures in NJ
While most claims do not go to trial, those that do are listed on a three-week cycle. Trials can therefore be spread out over a long period of time. While appellate courts have disapproved this procedure, many trials continue to be handled in this way, with one witness or two each cycle.
Cases are adjourned a number of cycles (one cycle= three weeks; two cycles= six weeks, etc.) until all remaining witnesses complete testifying. The court date will be assigned by the Division of Workers’ Compensation – our office has no control over the scheduling of hearings.
See the NJ Division of Workers’ Compensation – Hearing Cycles – 01/11/16 – 01/12/2018
Cases may be closed by one of the following four ways:
- A judgment from the court,
- An order approving settlement (award of a percentage of disability under Section 22),
- A Section 20 disposition (lump sum full and final payment),
- A dismissal with or without prejudice.
Although every case is different, approximately twice as many cases settle under orders approving settlement in NJ than under Section 20 settlements.
Injured on the Job? File Your Claim As Soon As Possible
If you have been hurt on the job, notify your employer as soon as possible. Please remember that there is two-year statute of limitations that applies to workers’ compensation cases. A formal claim petition must be filed within two years of the date of injury or the date of last payment of compensation, whichever is later.
The Mark Law Firm lawyers routinely represent clients in the various workers’ compensation courts throughout New Jersey and will file a claim for you with the Division of Workers’ Compensation. Contact us today for a FREE consultation at (phone).