If you suffered a workplace injury and are experiencing pushback from your employer and/or the workers’ comp insurance company regarding benefits, you may need to seek help from the New Jersey Department of Labor (DOL) – Division of Workers’ Compensation. Specifically, if you and your employer/the insurance company are in dispute over whether your injury is in fact work-related, the extent of your medical treatment, or regarding your entitlement to benefits, you may seek help from the DOL in one of two ways: 1) file a formal Claim Petition, or 2) file an Application for an Informal Hearing.
If you file an Application for an Informal Hearing, your case is assigned to a hearing officer, referred to as a judge, and a nearby district office. Within a few weeks, the DOL will notify you, your employer, and the workers’ comp insurance company of a hearing date. Typically, the DOL schedules the hearing within six months of the date you file your Application; in most cases, informal claims are resolved during the first (or sometimes second) hearing.
The primary purpose of the informal hearing process is to resolve disputes between workers and insurance companies without the need to resort to formal, complicated, expensive, and lengthy litigation. * NOTE: Filing an Application for an Informal Hearing does not toll the two-year statute of limitations for workers’ comp claims.
Seek Legal Counsel Before the Hearing
You can be assured that the workers’ comp insurance company will send an attorney to represent its interests at the hearing. It is to your benefit, then, to hire a competent, experienced workers’ comp attorney to represent your interests at the hearing. Ideally, you should contact counsel as soon as possible after your injury to ensure that you comply with all statutory requirements.
The workers’ compensation team at Petro Cohen Petro Matarazzo has more than 100 years of combined experience, and we have established ourselves as one of the leading law firms in New Jersey by successfully handling tens of thousands of workers’ compensation cases both in the Atlantic City area and throughout the state.
Prior to the hearing, you submit all of your medical records to the judge for review. The insurance company likely will do the same. At the hearing, the judge may ask you questions regarding your injuries, your disability, your medical treatment, and how your disability affects your daily living as well as your ability to work. If the insurance company disputes your claims, it will present its case to the judge. Following this “conversation” between all interested parties and the judge, the judge will recommend a resolution and settlement amount.
At this level, the judge’s recommendations are not binding – neither party has to agree with the proposed terms. If the parties do agree with the recommendations, they will sign an agreement, to which both parties must abide. In that instance, the insurance company will issue a payment within a few days.
If the employee does not agree with the judge’s recommendations, he or she may file a formal claim petition (within the deadline).
Contact Us Today
If you or someone you love would like to receive more information on workers’ compensation settlements, wage loss, workplace injuries, wage claims, and how to receive workers’ compensation benefits, contact our professional attorneys as soon as possible at (888) 675-7607 to schedule your free consultation. We can answer your questions and determine the most efficient way to proceed in order to help you and your family obtain the compensation that you deserve.