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Workers' compensation policies may change

Post-election policy watchers expect workers' compensation and related policy changes in the near future. Workers' compensation coverage is required of most New Jersey companies. In the event of an occupational disease or a workplace injury accident, eligible employees are entitled to file a claim for benefits that could include the payment of medical expenses as well as partial wage replacement.

Safety violations at the workplace may have caused the worker's injury. The workers' compensation claims process often prompts employers to address unsafe working conditions. If an OSHA violation occurred, an OSHA investigation may show that employer negligence was responsible for the worker's injury, and instead of filing a claim for benefits there could be a potential for a lawsuit against the employer.

Four states have announced potential changes to existing workers' compensation laws. California may seek to reform its law passed under prior administrations. New York's legislators continue to consider a two-year maximum cap on temporary total disability benefit claims. Florida is considering questions about the constitutionality of the cap on attorneys' fees. Illinois' focus on job growth includes reform to existing workers' compensation law.

In a changing legislative and financial environment, injured workers may need legal representation to protect their rights to workers' compensation benefits. In the past few years, some insurers raised premiums to offset rising workers' compensation claims. Others exited the market because the insurance product was not profitable for them. As carriers and legislators sort out policy issues and how to pay claims, experienced legal counsel can advocate for their injured clients.

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