New Jersey Court Discusses Reimbursement of Workers’ Compensation Benefits

While the work-related nature of some harm is clear, in other instances, an employer may deny that an employee suffered an illness or injury due to work conditions. Thus, the matter of whether an employer owes an employee workers’ compensation benefits will have to be decided in court. Recently, a New Jersey court addressed an issue where an appellate court overturns an initial ruling that an employee suffered work-related harm, if the employee may be compelled to repay any benefits he or she received. If you suffered an illness or injury due to conditions you encountered at work, it is advisable to confer with a dedicated New Jersey workers’ compensation attorney to assess your rights.

Facts and Procedural History

It is reported that the employee requested workers’ compensation benefits, alleging that he suffered harm due to exposure to toxic substances in the workplace. The employer denied that the employee suffered a work-related injury, and therefore the employee filed a claim against the employer. A trial was held, after which a judge of compensation awarded the employee temporary disability benefits, permanent disability benefits, and costs. The employee appealed and filed a motion to stay the case pending resolution of the appeal.

Allegedly, the judge of compensation denied the stay, but orally proscribed that if the decision was overturned, the employee might be required to repay the employer any benefits paid during the pendency of the appeal. While the parties were waiting for a ruling on the appeal, the employer paid the employee almost $117,000 in benefits. The appeal was subsequently granted, after which the employer filed a motion seeking reimbursement of the benefits paid. The judge of compensation denied the employer’s motion, stating that jurisdiction remained with the appellate court, after which the employer appealed. (more…)