Workers’ Compensation

Welcome to our Orthopedics Practice Workers’ Compensation Guide! This resource is designed to offer a helpful overview of workers’ compensation in the context of orthopedic injuries. It’s essential to recognize that this guide is not a replacement for professional advice.

To obtain more detailed and personalized information, we recommend visiting the official workers’ compensation portal. This portal provides access to the latest regulations, forms, and additional resources, ensuring you receive the most current and accurate information.

Your well-being is our primary concern, and we trust that this guide serves as a valuable starting point for understanding workers’ compensation in the field of orthopedic care.

Workers’ Compensation

Division of Workers’ Compensation’s Responsibilities: The Division of Workers’ Compensation (DWC) in New Jersey plays a crucial role in overseeing the implementation of the state’s Workers’ Compensation Law, N.J.S.A. 34:15-1 et seq., and resolving disputes arising under this legislation. Operating 15 workers’ compensation courts throughout the state, the Division serves as an unbiased forum dedicated to ensuring that workers receive fair and prompt Workers’ Compensation benefits, encompassing medical expenses, temporary disability benefits, and/or permanent disability benefits for injuries sustained during work.

Enforcement of Workers’ Compensation Insurance Coverage: Through its Office of Special Compensation Funds, the Division actively enforces the state law mandating employers to obtain Workers’ Compensation insurance coverage, either through commercial carriers or self-insurance programs. The Division manages the Uninsured Employer’s Fund, which extends temporary disability benefits and medical expense coverage to workers injured while working for uninsured employers. Additionally, it oversees the Second Injury Fund, offering benefit payments to workers who, already partially disabled, experience a subsequent work-related injury that collectively renders them totally disabled. The Division is financially supported by surcharges paid by employers.

Historical Context and Evolution of Workers’ Compensation Law in New Jersey: New Jersey has been at the forefront of legislation protecting injured workers since 1911 when it enacted its first workers’ compensation law. Prior to this, injured employees were compelled to pursue negligence claims against their employers under common law, a process notorious for taking years and leaving workers without income and medical benefits during the lengthy legal proceedings. The system’s inefficiencies were exacerbated by numerous employer defenses under common law, such as contributory negligence and assumption of risk.

Reforms of 1979 and the Pioneering Role of New Jersey: Substantial changes were introduced in 1979 following an extensive study by a select blue ribbon panel comprising representatives from labor, government, and industry. The primary objective was to improve benefits for the seriously disabled while discouraging permanent disability payments for workers with minor or subjective complaints. The reforms also incorporated provisions for cost-of-living increases for totally and permanently disabled workers, dependents of deceased workers, and beneficiaries of the Second Injury Fund. These reforms positioned New Jersey as a trailblazer, averting the cost increases and inefficiencies experienced by compensation systems nationwide in the following fifteen years.

Balancing the Needs of Injured Workers and Employers: The New Jersey Workers’ Compensation program, founded on a partnership among government, industry, and labor, strives to establish a fair equilibrium between the interests of injured workers and the needs of employers in the state. The law serves to protect both employees and employers, ensuring injured workers receive reasonable and necessary medical care, temporary disability benefits, and documented awards for resulting permanent disability. Employers, in turn, provide coverage for these costs while benefiting from protection against costly tort litigation and unrestricted civil verdicts for non-economic losses.


Workers’ Compensation Program Overview: In instances where parties cannot amicably resolve disputes concerning entitlement to Workers’ Compensation benefits, the Division offers a fair and impartial forum for mediation and, if necessary, adjudication. This role is fulfilled by the Division’s judicial and administrative staff.

Judicial Staff Responsibilities: Under the Director/Chief, the Judicial Staff includes Administrative Supervising Judges, Supervising Judges, and Judges of Compensation. Their duties encompass mediating and adjudicating Workers’ Compensation disputes, as well as reviewing and approving formal claims settlements. Judges of Compensation possess the authority to make awards, mandate medical examinations and services for injured employees, approve and determine attorneys’ fees, and assess penalties when warranted. Their decisions are binding and can only be appealed to the Appellate Division of the Superior Court.

Administrative Staff Functions: The administrative arm of the Division of Workers’ Compensation (DWC) manages the general Workers’ Compensation functions, overseeing central office administrative units and fifteen district offices across the state. Key responsibilities include processing, recording, reviewing, and data entering Workers’ Compensation case information, handling requests for case file copies, collecting statistics, maintaining records of reported injuries, and managing the assignment and scheduling of claim petitions and informal hearings. Additionally, this area provides information on benefits and claims processing procedures.

Office of Special Compensation Funds: The Office of Special Compensation Funds focuses on:

  • Enforcing the law mandating employers to secure insurance coverage from commercial carriers or through self-insurance programs.
  • Offering temporary disability benefits and medical expenses to workers injured while working for uninsured employers.
  • Providing benefit payments to workers already partially disabled who subsequently experience work-related injuries, rendering them totally disabled.


Legal Consequences for Uninsured Employers: Failure to maintain Workers’ Compensation insurance or possess an approved self-insured status in New Jersey is deemed a disorderly persons offense and potentially a criminal offense. The Division actively identifies non-compliant employers and imposes penalties and restitution once identified.

Severity of Sanctions for Uninsured Employers: Sanctions for uninsured employers range from prosecution as a strict liability disorderly person’s offense to a fourth-degree criminal offense. Additionally, civil fines and penalties can be imposed, with uninsured employers facing penalties of up to $5,000 for the initial ten days of non-compliance and up to $5,000 for each subsequent ten-day period.

Reporting Uninsured Employers: Individuals aware of uninsured employers can report such cases to the Office of Special Compensation Funds via email at or by completing the Report of Non-Compliance form. Anonymous reporting is accepted, but specific details, including the employer’s name, exact address, and if possible, names of principal operators, are necessary.