New Jersey Court Explains Requirements for Modifying a Workers’ Compensation Award
In many instances, even if an injured employee is awarded workers’ compensation benefits, the award may be inadequate to cover the employee’s income loss or the cost of medical treatment. Thus, the New Jersey Workers’ Compensation Law allows employees to seek modifications of benefits awards under certain circumstances. There are time limitations as to when a modification may be sought, though, and employees who seek a modification outside of the statutory period may be denied, as showing in a recent New Jersey workers’ compensation case. If you wish to seek a modification of your workers’ compensation award or your request for modification was denied, it is prudent to speak with a skillful New Jersey workers’ compensation attorney regarding your rights.
Factual History of the Case
It is alleged that, in 2000, the employee injured his right knee while working for a shipping company. He subsequently sought and obtained numerous awards of workers’ compensation benefits for that injury. He then began working for a school district. In 2012, the employee filed a petition for workers’ compensation benefits from the school district for injuries in both knees and filed a concurrent motion to open his prior petition against the shipping company. Following a hearing, the compensation court determined that the shipping company was responsible for the treatment for the employee’s right knee, while the school district was responsible for the treatment of the left knee.
It is reported that both petitions resolved in December 2015, when the employee was awarded permanent disability benefits for his left knee against the school district and for his right knee against the shipping company. In 2017, the employee requested an additional examination and treatment from both employers, but the shipping company did not respond. He then requested that the court re-open his petition against the shipping company in 2018, but the court denied his petition as untimely. The employee appealed.
Statute of Limitations for Seeking a Modification of a Workers’ Compensation Award
New Jersey’s Workers’ Compensation Law 34:15-27 states that upon the petition of an employee, the court may review a determination, judgment, or award if the employee’s injuries have since increased, but only if the petition is filed within two years of when the employee last received a payment. Upon review, the court noted that the two-year time limitation was a jurisdictional requirement that could not be waived. The court was not persuaded by the employee’s argument that he was lulled into a false sense of security by the shipping company’s failure to respond to his request for additional treatment, noting that other than in cases involving mental incapacity, the statutory period could not be tolled. Thus, the court affirmed the denial of the employee’s petition for modification.
Speak to a Knowledgeable New Jersey Workers’ Compensation Attorney
If you wish to seek a modification of your award of workers’ compensation benefits, it is prudent to speak to an attorney to prevent the unintentional waiver of your right to modification. The knowledgeable New Jersey workers’ compensation attorneys of The Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall are skilled at helping injured workers seek modifications of their awards and fighting claims denials and we will work tirelessly to help you seek the maximum benefits available. You can contact us at 866-916-3549 or through our online form to set up a meeting.