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Statute of limitations on workers' compensation claims

Workers in New Jersey should keep in mind that they may be unable to claim workers' compensation if they file a claim more than two years after the occurrence of the injury or illness. A man who worked at McDonald's from 1995 to 2005 is struggling to receive compensation for a rotator cuff injury diagnosed in 2006. At issue is whether or not the injury is related to an earlier diagnosis of tendonitis from 2001.

The man sought treatment several times for shoulder pain between 1995 and 2005 while doing maintenance for McDonald's, but he never filed for workers' compensation. An MRI in June 2006 revealed the rotator cuff tear that led to surgery. At that time, the man filed a workers' compensation claim, but it was rejected on the grounds that it was outside the two-year statute of limitations.

After the man and his lawyer appealed the decision, an appellate court ruled that further expert testimony was needed. It did not dispute that the man knew of his tendonitis going back to 2001, but it was unsure whether the rotator cuff tear was a related injury. The workers' compensation court will now hear further testimony to determine whether the two injuries are connected.

People who are injured on the job should keep good records and make their workers' compensation claims as soon as possible to avoid situations such as this one. Injured workers may be eligible for benefits regardless of who is at fault in the accident. An employer is not permitted to dissuade an injured worker from filing or to retaliate in any way. Those workers who are unsure whether they are eligible or feel that their employer is discouraging them from filing may wish to consult an attorney.

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