Assemblymember Jonathan Jacobson (D-104) has announced that two Workers’ Compensation reform bills he introduced (A359-A and A386), have both passed the Assembly and Senate. The bills now go to the Governor for his signature.
“As a former Workers Compensation judge and attorney representing injured workers, I’ve seen too many workers get injured on the job only to get stuck in a bureaucratic nightmare with an unresponsive Workers’ Compensation Board. This legislation will go a long way to helping injured workers regain lost wage benefits and receive the treatment they need to recover and return to the workforce,” said Jacobson.
Under existing Workers’ Compensation law, workers whose employer do not have a valid Workers’ Compensation insurance policy are covered by the Uninsured Employers Fund (UEF). However, it often takes the Workers’ Compensation Board three to six months to determine whether the UEF must be appointed. During this wait, workers find it almost impossible to receive medical treatment and benefits for lost wages are not paid.
Bill A-359-A will automatically appoint the UEF as the temporary carrier if the Board is unable to make a determination within ten days of a new claimant’s filing. This will not cost the State since, under existing law, the employer is still responsible and if a proper carrier is found, that carrier will reimburse the UEF.
“An injured worker should not be penalized because the employer did not follow the law and have insurance,” said Jacobson.
Currently, a single mistake, omission, or other minor irregularity in the cover sheet of a Workers Compensation appeal or rebuttal to an appeal can be grounds for a denial. The Board uses these minor errors as an excuse not to issue a decision on the merits. Bill A386 allows claimants twenty days to correct any cover sheet irregularities upon notice by the Board.
“This bill will help guarantee the due process rights of all appearing be for the Workers’ Compensation Board,” said Jacobson