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Chapter 5:  - The Workers Compensation Judicial System

Workers Compensation Judges review and rule on all matters affecting a claim settlement of a claim. While their rulings can be appealed to the Appellate Division of the Superior Court, appeals are rare. Specifically: Judges have the authority to (1) make awards (2) Require medical examinations and services for injured employees (3) approve and fix attorney’s fees, and (4) assess penalties.

As an alternative to formal litigation, an informal hearing process before a Judge is available, and often results in a quicker resolution of the case.  The statute of limitations for filing a formal claim is two years from the date of injury, or the last payment and/or authorized medical treatment.

  • Only approximately 15% of all cases are resolved in judicial hearings.
  • Each Judge has authority to establish rules for hearing cases in their chambers.
  • Understanding each Judge’s evaluation methodology is essential.
  • Because of the establishment of JIFs, Judges have become more familiar with local government work practices and environment – which can be an advantage to both the employer and the employee -- in finding an amicable resolution to their disagreement.
  • Most Judges take into consideration the occupation of the employee as well as the percentage of disability when determining the amount of an award.
  • A realistic medical assessment of injury that relates diagnosis to its functional impact on the employee is crucial. Qualifying the extent of an injury is of equal importance. To assist in the evaluation of an injury’s impact on the employee and job performance, Judges often welcome a “job activities check list” identifying the essential components of a particular job classification.
  • Although medical history is given consideration, standard judicial procedure is to evaluate each claim on its own merits.