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In New Jersey, can I file an informal claim and a formal claim for the same work-related illness?

In some industries, employees face exposure and contact with hazardous materials, chemicals and environments that cause them to become ill. For workers with pre-existing medical issues, their workplaces may worsen their health. The federal Occupational Safety and Health Act requires employers to provide their employees with safe and healthy working conditions. The Act created the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) that establishes and enforces workplace safety standards. Like the OSHA, the New Jersey Division of Public Safety and Occupational Safety and Health regulates work environments at the state level.

An illness is work-related if it arises out of and in the course of employment. The employer’s negligence must have actually and legally caused the employee’s condition. When an employee suffers a job-related illness, the exclusive remedy in New Jersey is to file a workers’ compensation claim. The injured worker may receive wage compensation, medical benefits and disability benefits.

The employee submits their claim to their employer for approval to receive benefits. When an employer denies the claim or the parties disputes parts of the claim, the employee may file a claim with the New Jersey Division of Workers’ Compensation. A party may file an informal claim to resolve disputes without a formal trial. The employer may agree that the employee’s illness is work-related, but both parties may disagree with the medical treatment or the benefits and wage compensation. For informal claims, a judge makes suggestions on settling the disagreements, but the decisions do not bind the employer and employee. The employee can disregard the suggestions and file a formal claim.

The ruling by the judge of compensation in a formal Under New Jersey workers’ compensation law, an employee with an occupational disease, does not have a time limit to file a formal claim. However, workers who know they have an illness related to their employment have two years from the date they knew to file a formal claim. An employee who fails to file within the time limit forever loses his right to file the claim.

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