In an April 22, 2013 radio appearance, Governor Chris Christie announced a plan to address issues that affect the state Workers’ Compensation system. The plan is expected to resolve issues pertaining to both sides of claims, which includes how claims are handled by employers as well as fraudulent practices by employees when they file their claims.
Claims-processing reforms may be long overdue. As early as June 2008, NJ.com reported severe delays in the system, such as the following examples:
A retired veteran who broke his leg at work and waited more than three years to receive approval for needed knee replacement surgery
A man who missed six months of work after a severe workplace injury and lost his home waiting for the Workers’ Compensation system to provide him the relief he needed
A man who injured his neck and back in a work-related crash, ran out of money for pain medication, and drove his truck into a Workers’ Compensation courthouse in frustration after receiving the eighth postponement for his claim within two years
Although the report states that many injured workers successfully find relief from the NJ Workers’ Compensation program, thousands of workers become mired in a bureaucratic system that fails them in numerous ways. After conducting an eight-month investigation of cases and state records and interviewing involved parties, the Star-Ledger found a system that often required injured workers to wait years — or even die ? before getting benefits the law promises.
It is too soon to tell if the Governor’s reforms effectively address the systemic issues of the state Workers’ Compensation program.