In an article published this week in the NJ Law Journal, Jay H. Bernstein, Esq., has advocated for a more progressive benefit system to replace the century-old benefit system crafted in 1911.
NJ presently utilizes a statutory schedule of disabilities that enumerates major body parts and total disability based on weeks. Bernstein states, "The key is that permanent partial disability continues to affect the worker's salary and earning capacity." He is urging for the elimination of an "arbitrary cut off" based on a weekly schedule.
Additionally, Bernstein is proposing an employee physician choice system and states that it would provide immediate access to treatment and would result in better medical outcomes. NJ presently has employer choice of physician.
Politically, there may be major changes in the Workers' Compensation system post-election if the Democrats are able to take control of the Governor's mansion from NJ's present Republican Gov. Chris Christie, who is term-limited. The changes may come by administratively, regulatory modifications and/or statutory changes. Presently, the NJ Division of Workers' Compensation has a huge number of Compensation Judges awaiting a tenure decision and vacancies may be filled during potential lame duck session appointments.
Several other significant areas are ripe for attention. Recently, the NJ State Bar Association has made proposals to increase the efficiency of the Courts of Compensation. Also, the Medical Fees Taskforce II has made suggestions that that may be addressed in the forthcoming weeks.
The changing political landscape in NJ is promising to bring winds of change to the NJ Workers' Compensation system. The weeks and months ahead may be a very fertile time for the potential needed change of NJ's century-old work-related benefit system.
See, "Is NJ Workers' Compensation Law Etched in Stone,?" NJLJ 11/06/2017
Jon L. Gelman of Wayne NJ is the author of NJ Workers’ Compensation Law (West-Thomson-Reuters) and co-author of the national treatise, Modern Workers’ Compensation Law (West-Thomson-Reuters).