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Recent Updates to New Jersey Workers’ Compensation Legislation

Recent Updates to New Jersey Workers’ Compensation LegislationNew Jersey, like many other states, requires all employers – including corporations and LLCs – to carry workers’ compensation insurance if they have at least one individual that is paid to perform services for the company. Since 1911, New Jersey workers’ compensation law has regulated and provided income and benefits for employees who have been injured or sick due to workplace-related causes. Although this law has been around for over 100 years, it is constantly changing and adapting to meet the needs of today’s workforce. Below are some of the most recent updates to New Jersey workers’ compensation legislation.

The End of Voluntary Offers

For almost 90 years, employers in New Jersey have been permitted to make voluntary offers of permanent partial disability free of counsel fees to tide injured employees over while their workers’ compensation cases were pending settlement. This statute, passed in April of 1928, allowed employers to save on counsel fees on the amount offered if the bona fide offers were made within 26 weeks of maximal medical improvement, or return to work, whichever is later.

On August 24, 2018, Governor Murphy signed the bill into law, after it was passed by the state senate back in June. Known as S2145, the bill ends the right of employers to make bona fide offers of permanent partial disability free of counsel fees. Under the new law, counsel for petitioners are entitled to a fee on all benefits paid to the petitioner if those payments occur after the date of a signed agreement between the counsel and the petitioner/injured worker.  Employers still have the option to make an offer of permanency to an injured worker and can still get a dollar credit for doing so, but will no longer have the incentive of saving money on counsel fees and will not have a way of confirming whether or not or when an injured worker has signed an agreement with counsel.

NJ Workers’ Compensation Payments Include Medical Marijuana

In the case of McNeary v. Freehold Township, the Honorable Lionel Simon, J.W.C. held that an employer must pay the cost of medical marijuana treatment for an employee’s work related injury. While the respondent argued that a New Jersey court could not require an employer to violate federal law, which still prohibits the use of marijuana, the court pointed out that, in requiring an employer to pay for medical marijuana treatment, the employer would simply be signing a check, which does not make an employer “in any way complicit with the distribution of illicit narcotics.”

Potential Loss of the “Reverse Offset”

While in place just yet, 2019 federal budget changes may affect NJ workers’ compensation rates. New Jersey is one of 15 states that has an agreement with the Social Security Administration (SSA) that gives the offset for total disability payments to the employer rather than having it go to the SSA. However, the proposed 2019 federal budget eliminates reverse offsets in the 15 states that currently participate in the agreement that has saved employers and carriers countless millions of dollars over the years. The current budget proposal would eliminate the reverse offset practice in all 15 states and will allegedly save the federal government $164 million over 10 years.

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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