Court Discusses Due Process in New Jersey Workers’ Compensation Claims

In workers’ compensation cases, a court will generally try to balance the competing interests by providing an injured employee with benefits he or she is owed and protecting the due process rights of all parties. Recently, a New Jersey court discussed due process rights in workers’ compensation matters in a case in which an employer alleged its rights were violated due to an expedited trial. If you were injured at work, you might be able to recover workers’ compensation benefits, and you should speak to a trusted New Jersey workers’ compensation attorney to discuss your rights.

The Claimant’s Injury and Procedural History

It is reported that the claimant worked as a domestic helper for a rabbi and his wife. The rabbi was employed by a Jewish center and lived in a home provided by the center. During the course of her employment, the claimant slipped and fell down the stairs, suffering injuries to her left knee and back. The claimant subsequently sought workers’ compensation benefits from the center and from the rabbi and his wife. In turn, the center joined a rabbinical college, claiming the college employed the claimant. A judge of compensation then converted a conference prior to trial to a motion for temporary medical and disability benefits, awarding the claimant benefits and dismissing the claims against the rabbinical college. The center appealed, arguing its due process rights had been violated. After review, the appellate court affirmed.

Due Process Rights in Workers’ Compensation Cases

Under the New Jersey Workers’ Compensation Act (the Act) a motion for temporary medical or disability benefits must show that a claimant is currently temporarily disabled or needs medical treatment. If only past periods of disability are claimed, the issues should be presented at pretrial or trial and not resolved via a motion. The center argued that by allowing the claimant to testify during a pretrial conference, the fundamental elements of the Act were violated. However, the appellate court noted that the Act allows for accelerated scheduling. Further, the appellate court noted that at a prior hearing, the court advised the parties it would permit the claimant to testify at the pretrial conference.

The court also declined to adopt the center’s argument that its due process rights were violated due to the judge of compensation’s decision to accelerate the matter. The appellate court explained that workers’ compensation judges are not strictly bound by the rules of procedure and evidence, but must respect the fundamental rights of the litigants and ensure due process. Due process is not a fixed concept, however, but depends on the circumstances. Essentially, it requires an opportunity to be heard in a meaningful manner at a meaningful time. In the subject case, the appellate court noted that the center failed to appear for the proceedings or offer testimony, despite being given the opportunity. As such, the appellate court affirmed the lower court ruling.

Meet with a Skillful New Jersey Workers’ Compensation Attorney

People injured at work often have the right to recover workers’ compensation benefits, but in some instances, the payment of benefits will be delayed. If you suffered an injury at work, the skillful New Jersey workers’ compensation attorneys of The Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall can advise you of what benefits you may be owed and assist you in recovering any benefits you are entitled to receive in a timely manner. You can reach us via our online form or at 800-999-0897 to schedule a meeting.

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