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How do you resolve a dispute over your work accident?

If you've been hurt at work in New Jersey, you likely need to file a claim to receive your workers' compensation payments. Interestingly, while you may want to report your incident and believe it's related to your job, your employer is able to contest that fact. When this happens, you may need to take your dispute to a hearing with the Division of Workers' Compensation.

Once the case is filed with the Division of Workers' Compensation, you'll need to go to an informal hearing where the claim will be discussed. Issues that could come up may include things like where your illness or accident took place, how the illness or accident relates to your job and what kind of medical treatment you needed. The type of benefits you will need may also be discussed.

If you want, your claim could attempt to seek permanent disability benefits or dependency benefits (if in the case of another person, like your spouse, dying on the job.) Filing a claim doesn't come without risks, and it's normal for those filing to obtain help from an attorney. It's possible to file pro se, which means you represent yourself, but this isn't as common.

In an informal claim dispute, you'll have an informal hearing in front of a judge of compensation. The judge will hear the case and make suggestions on how to resolve the situation. These suggestions aren't formal or binding, so this may not resolve all your problems.

If the informal hearing isn't any help, you could file a formal claim. This process is completed like the informal claim process, but if no agreement can be reached, then the judge can issue (or not issue) a binding compensation order.

Source: State of New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development, "Filing a Claim" accessed Mar. 18, 2015

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