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Employees Must Notify Employer Within 90 Days of Diagnosis
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Employees Must Notify Employer Within 90 Days of Diagnosis

Occupational Exposure

 The NJ Supreme Court has ruled that employees have 90 days to notify their employers after the diagnosis of an occupational disease. If the employee fails to notify his employer, a claim for workers’ compensation benefits may be barred. 

This decision overrules a lower court ruling of last year. Late notice will no longer be permitted. 

The Court wrote, "On this record, it is incontrovertible that Brock knew or should have known of the nature of his disability and its relation to his employment with PSE & G in November 1989 when he received the letter from the pulmonary internist reporting that he suffered from pleural asbestosis. No notice of Brock's claim for compensation for that condition was provided to PSE & G until October 23, 1991, when Brock's claim petition was filed. Accordingly, unless otherwise excused, Brock's failure to provide PSE & G with the required statutory notice that he had developed a compensable occupational disease mandates dismissal of his compensation claim."

While working in various capacities for approximately 30 years, an employee was exposed to asbestos fiber. In 1987 the employee retired. In 1988 the retired employee consulted with both a lawyer and a doctor. In November of 1989 the employee had actual knowledge that he suffered from asbestosis. In 1990, a third-party products liability claim was filed as a result of his asbestosis which he learned of when he received a copy of the medical report from his attorney. In March of 1991, the former employee received the proceeds of the first settlement from a defendant in the third-party action. On October 23, 1991, within two years after he had knowledge of his occupationally-related disease, the former employee filed a workers’ compensation claim against his former employer. The court barred the claim because the employee had not notified his former employer until the filing of the workers’ compensation claim which was not within the 90 days provided by the Statute. Brock v. Public Service Electric and Gas Co. (N.J. 1997). 

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Jon L. Gelman of Wayne, NJ, is the author of NJ Workers’ Compensation Law (Thomson-Reuters) and co-author of the national treatise, Modern Workers’ Compensation Law (Thomson-Reuters). For over five decades, the Law Offices of Jon L Gelman 1.973.696.7900 jon@gelmans.com have represented injured workers and their families who have suffered occupational accidents and illnesses.

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