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The Importance of Prompt Workers’ Compensation Reporting Policies for New Jersey Employers

The Importance of Prompt Workers’ Compensation Reporting Policies for New Jersey EmployersPrompt reporting of workers’ compensation claims is a crucial component to controlling workers’ compensation claim costs. In some states, not reporting a claim in a timely manner can give employers a strong defense in workers’ compensation court. However, in the New Jersey workers’ comp system, the amount of allowed extensions on reporting make this a weak defense for employers. Without solid policies on workplace injury reporting practices, employees can legally delay reporting in New Jersey for up to 90 days.

In section N.J.S.A. 34:15-17, the New Jersey Workers’ Comp law states that if an employer is unaware of an injury on the job and an employee or someone acting on the behalf of the employee does not provide the employer with notice of injury within 14 days of the occurrence of the injury, “then no compensation shall be due until such notice is given or knowledge obtained.” Taken at face value, that gives employers and employees a reasonable window of time in which to report work injuries and begin the claims process, although a more effective option would be to report within 24 hours of an injury occurrence.

Unfortunately for employers, that same section goes on to add in more possible extensions. If the employee reports the claim within 30 days, then “no want, failure, or inaccuracy of a notice” should prevent the employer from paying the claim unless it can show it suffered “prejudice” due to the delay in reporting. Nowhere in the statute does it define the usage of the word prejudice, making it difficult for employers to use that as a defense.

Even further, it states that if the employer becomes aware of the injury within 90 days, and the employee can prove that their failure to notify the employer was due to “his mistake, inadvertence, ignorance of fact or law, or inability, or to the fraud, misrepresentation or deceit of another person, or to any other reasonable cause or excuse” then the employer must either pay the claim or, again, prove that it suffered “prejudice” due to late reporting.

Employees may delay reporting for a number of reasons. They may think the injury is minor and will go away on its own, they may be worried that they will be blamed for the injury or they may even be concerned that reporting their claim might affect their relationship with the employer in a negative way. While the law may give employees a rather large window of time in which they can report, the repercussions of late employee reporting for employers can include higher workers’ comp premiums, defense costs and other legal fees.

Employers can combat some of this hesitation by having a clear-cut policy that encourages injured employees to report workplace accidents within 24 hours, provides information on how to do so and lets employees know that they can not be fired simply for reporting a workplace injury. Being proactive with workers’ compensation reporting policies can help ease employee worries and make workers’ compensation claims in the workplace more cost-effective and efficient overall.

About ASIA Workers’ Compensation

Associated Specialty Insurance Agency, Inc. has been “The Workers’ Compensation Specialist for Brokers and Agents” for the past two decades and is committed to providing brokers and insurance agents across the East Coast with expertise and services to develop a Workers’ Compensation policy. For more information about how we can assist you with claims management, anti-fraud measures, and more call (610) 543-5510 to speak with one of our professionals.

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