Knowing What to Expect During Your Workers Compensation Trial to Prevent Intimidation
Here are some key points to remember
In New Jersey, employees must quickly report workplace injuries to someone in authority in order to initiate a workers’ compensation case. In turn, the employer must report the incident to the state. This notification – which officially advises the state that an accident has occurred and the employee is seeking workers’ compensation benefits – is legally known as the First Report of Incident (FROI).
In 2015, alone, the state received more than 130,000 such reports. The number of new claim petitions filed in connection with these cases totaled more than 34,000. By submitting a claim petition, the employee’s attorney (or the employee himself) is requesting the formal adjudication of a disputed case at trial.
New Jersey workers whose workers’ compensation claims have been denied have a set period of time in which to initiate this process. Specifically, a formal claim must be made within two years from the date of the injury, or within two years of the when the employee knew or should have known their illness or injury was related to his or her work exposure.
After the claim petition is filed, the first in a series of hearings is scheduled in the county where the worker lives or the county where the employer is located. A judge of compensation presides at the hearing, which is typically held within a few months.
In some cases, the worker (or his or her attorney) can file paperwork asking for immediate aid. This request is known as a Motion for Medical and Temporary Benefits. These requests are usually honored fairly quickly – often within a few weeks after they are filed.
As they deal with preliminary matters, the attorneys for both sides will continue preparing for trial. In many cases they will also try to come to an agreement on the contested issues that is acceptable to everyone involved. If they can do so, a trial will no longer be necessary. If not, the process continues.
At trial, both sides are allowed to call witnesses and present evidence. As the injured worker, you will be expected to testify about your injury and other relevant issues. The doctor that treated you may also testify about the extent of your injury or illness, the treatment rendered and so on. Co-workers or other witnesses to the accident that caused your injury or illness may also be called to bolster your case.
After all of the applicable testimony has been presented, the judge will rule on the disputed issues. As an employee, the only recourse available to you if you do not agree is to take the case to the Appellate Division of the Superior Court.
In New Jersey, employees are allowed to represent themselves at hearings and at trial. But because workers’ compensation laws can be difficult to understand, experts recommend retaining counsel when possible. At Lomurro Law, our New Jersey workers’ comp attorneys know what it takes not only to bring a workers’ compensation trial, but also to win. If you are in need of tough, yet compassionate representation call our Freehold office at 732-482-9285 or contact us online.