Can employees seek to modify a workers’ compensation award?
Every claim for workers’ compensation is different. Different jobs result in different workplace injuries and affect employees in different ways. When claims are settled and compensation is ordered, the amount and duration of the order will vary depending on the circumstances. However, not all orders will continue to fit the circumstances over the long-term. If the circumstances change, what can you do?
Did things get worse over time?
When an award for workers’ compensation is ordered, it’s made based upon the information available at the time. But there’s no guarantee that things will remain the same as they were originally foreseen. An employee may sustain an injury that disables them and prevents them from working for an anticipated period of time. The actual time disabled may be longer. Or, perhaps the severity of the injury itself is underestimated or becomes worse as time passes. Regardless, the initial award may no longer be sufficient to cover the disability.
Modifying the award
New Jersey permits employees to request a modification to their workers’ compensation award if it becomes necessary. New Jersey statute section 34:15-27 allows the employee to seek modification when there’s an increase in the incapacitation. The claim is subsequently reopened and reviewed, to include the change in circumstances. The employee will be required to submit new evidence demonstrating how the situation has changed and why it warrants an increase in the award.
The employee’s petition must be filed within two years of the last payment received from the initial award. Beyond two years, seeking a modification is barred by law.