New Jersey Court Discusses Due Process Rights in Workers’ Compensation Claims

While in some instances, the work-related nature of an injury is not disputed, in other cases, the employee and employer may disagree as to whether an injury was sustained at work. Thus, in some cases, a hearing may be held in front of a workers’ compensation judge who will ultimately make a determination as to whether an employee is entitled to benefits. Workers’ compensation judges have an obligation to weigh all pertinent information before rendering a decision. If they fail to do so, it may be grounds for dismissal of any issued order. This was demonstrated in a recent New Jersey case in which the denial of the employee’s workers’ compensation claim was reversed due to the fact the workers’ compensation judge did not let the employee testify. If you filed a claim for workers’ compensation benefits that was denied, it is in your best interest to confer with a diligent New Jersey workers’ compensation attorney to discuss your options for seeking recourse.

Factual and Procedural History

It is reported that the employee filed a petition for workers’ compensation benefits after he fractured his foot while working for the employer, a landscaping company. The employer disputed that the injury happened at work, arguing that the employee’s medical records included statements from the employee in which the employee stated the injury happened at home. Multiple hearings were held on the matter, during which the employer testified regarding the reasons for disputing the employee’s petition.

Allegedly, the judge advised he would allow the employee to testify but did not actually afford him the opportunity to do so, and issued an order denying the employee’s petition. The employee then appealed, arguing that the judge violated the employee’s right to due process by not allowing the employee to introduce evidence in support of his petition.

Due Process Rights in Workers’ Compensation Claims

In New Jersey, a workers’ compensation judge is not required to strictly adhere to the rules of evidence and procedure but must uphold the right to due process and the essential rights of litigants.  What constitutes due process depends on the individual facts of the case, but essentially, due process requires that a party be given a chance to be heard at a critical juncture of the case and allowed to present meaningful evidence.

Thus, the New Jersey courts have ruled that the opportunity to be heard includes not only the right to cross-examine adverse witnesses but also the right to present evidence and testimony to refute the opposing party’s evidence. In the subject case, the appellate court noted that the workers’ compensation judge’s entry of an order dismissing the employee’s claim without allowing the employee to present evidence indisputably violated his right to due process. Thus, the appellate court reversed the order and remanded the case for further proceedings.

Consult a Trusted New Jersey Workers’ Compensation Attorney

If you filed a claim for workers’ compensation benefits that was denied, you should contact an attorney as soon as possible to discuss whether you may have the right to appeal. The trusted New Jersey workers’ compensation attorneys of The Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall possess the skills and resources to help injured employees fight to overturn a denied claim and we will zealously advocate on your behalf. We can be reached at 800-999- 0897 or via the online form to schedule a meeting.

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