In New Jersey, we review and investigate cases for issues that will create the legal justification for a Section 20 settlement. For instance, New Jersey has an unusual but often beneficial statute pertaining to traumatic hernia claims. N.J.S.A. 34:15-12(c)(23) requires petitioners to provide notice to the employer within 48 hours after the occurrence of a traumatic hernia excluding weekends and holidays. Petitioners are required to exercise reasonable care and diligence to discover workplace injuries, including inguinal hernias. This is a mandatory reporting period. This is in contrast to the 90 day notice period for traumatic accidents. N.J.S.A. 34:15-17.
In practice, when presented with a traumatic hernia claim, an investigation is crucial to verify the petitioner timely reported the hernia pursuant to N.J.S.A. 34:15-12(c)(23). The investigation should include a review of any emergency treatment or visits to a primary care physician. If the investigation reveals a legitimate notice issue, the claim can be denied thus providing the legal basis for a Section 20 settlement. Most Judges of Compensation will approve a Section 20 settlement if the respondent is able to articulate a viable notice defense pursuant to N.J.S.A. 34:15-12(c)(23).