Workers' compensation is a critical aspect of employment law designed to protect both employees and employers when workplace injuries occur. In New Jersey, the workers' compensation system ensures that employees who are injured on the job receive necessary medical treatment and financial compensation without the need for lengthy litigation.  Understanding the statute of limitations for filing these claims is crucial, as missing these deadlines can result in losing the right to compensation. This guide, provided by The Epstein Law Firm, aims to clarify these time limits and help you navigate the complexities of workers' compensation claims in New Jersey.

What is the Statute of Limitations for Workers' Compensation Claims?

The statute of limitations is a legal term that refers to the maximum time period one has to initiate legal proceedings from the date of an alleged offense. In the context of workers' compensation, it defines the timeframe within which an injured employee must file a claim to be eligible for benefits. In New Jersey, the statute of limitations for workers' compensation claims is generally two years. This period begins from the date of the injury or from the date the employee knew, or should have known, that the injury was related to their job. For occupational diseases, the statute of limitations also starts from the date the employee became aware, or should have become aware, of the work-related nature of their illness. Failing to file within this period typically results in the forfeiture of the right to claim benefits. Therefore, understanding and adhering to these deadlines is essential for any injured worker seeking compensation.

Exceptions and Special Circumstances

While the general rule is straightforward, several exceptions and special circumstances can extend or modify the statute of limitations for workers' compensation claims in New Jersey. Understanding these exceptions can be critical in ensuring that you do not miss the opportunity to file a claim. One notable exception is the discovery rule. In cases where the injury or illness is not immediately apparent, the statute of limitations may begin from the date the employee discovers, or reasonably should have discovered, the link between their condition and their employment. This rule often applies to occupational diseases, such as respiratory illnesses or repetitive stress injuries, which may develop over time. Another important consideration is the issue of minors. If the injured employee is under 18 years old at the time of the injury, the statute of limitations does not begin until the individual reaches the age of majority. Additionally, if an employer has provided some form of benefits or medical treatment for the injury, the statute of limitations may be tolled (paused) during the period these benefits are provided. This ensures that employees who are receiving ongoing care do not lose their right to file a formal claim due to the passage of time.

Steps to Take When Filing a Workers' Compensation Claim

To ensure your claim is filed within the statutory time limits and to increase the likelihood of a successful outcome, it is important to follow a structured process. 

Report the Injury

Immediately report your injury to your employer. In New Jersey, this must be done within 90 days of the occurrence. Prompt reporting helps establish a record of the injury and ensures timely medical care.

Seek Medical Attention

Obtain medical treatment as soon as possible. Your employer may direct you to a specific healthcare provider. Document all treatments and maintain records of medical reports and expenses.

File a Formal Claim

Even if your employer acknowledges the injury, it is prudent to file a formal workers' compensation claim with the New Jersey Division of workers'' Compensation. This formal claim must be filed within two years from the date of injury or from when you became aware of the injury's connection to your job.

Gather Evidence

Collect and organize all relevant evidence, including medical records, witness statements, and any correspondence with your employer regarding the injury. This documentation will support your claim.

Consult an Attorney

Engaging an experienced workers' compensation attorney can be invaluable. An attorney can help navigate the complexities of the claim process, ensure all paperwork is filed correctly, and advocate on your behalf if disputes arise.

How The Epstein Law Firm Can Assist with Your Workers' Compensation Claim

The Epstein Law Firm specializes in workers' compensation cases and provides comprehensive support for injured employees. Here are some of the ways The Epstein Law Firm can assist you. 

Legal Advice and Representation

Our attorneys offer expert legal advice tailored to your specific situation. We represent your interests, ensuring you receive the benefits you deserve.

Claims Filing Assistance

We help prepare and file all necessary documents within the required timeframes, ensuring compliance with New Jersey's workers' compensation laws.

Evidence Collection

Our team assists in gathering and organizing the evidence needed to support your claim, strengthening your case.

Negotiations and Settlements

We negotiate with insurance companies and employers on your behalf to secure fair settlements. If necessary, we represent you in hearings before the Division of workers'' Compensation.

Ongoing Support

Throughout the entire process, we provide ongoing support, answering your questions and addressing your concerns to help you focus on recovery. In conclusion, understanding the statute of limitations for workers' compensation claims in New Jersey is crucial for protecting your rights as an injured worker. The Epstein Law Firm is here to guide you through this complex process, ensuring you receive the compensation and support you deserve. Don't let deadlines deter you from pursuing your claim—reach out to The Epstein Law Firm today for a consultation and take the first step towards securing your benefits.  Contact us today at 201-231-7847 or schedule a consultation online to learn more.