On January 19, 2018, the New Jersey Appellate Division clarified the statute of limitations for Medical Providers’ claims in Workers’ Compensation in Plastic Surgery Center v Malouf Chevrolet-Cadillac, Inc. (A-5597-16T1; A-5603-16T1; A-5604-16T1; A-0151-17T1; A-0152-17T1). The Appellate Division determined that the intent of the Legislature was to maintain a six year statute of limitations for Medical Providers to bring a collection action against the Respondent Insurance Carriers; the two year statute of limitations provided for Petitioners in N.J.S.A 34:15-51 does not apply to claims brought by Medical Providers.
Prior to 2012, Medical Providers seeking to resolve a payment dispute for services provided in a Workers’ Compensation claim could file a collection action in New Jersey Superior Court. The Medical Provider had six years from the date of service to file the claim. N.J.S.A 2A:14-1. This changed in 2012 when the Legislature provided the Division of Workers’ Compensation with exclusive jurisdiction over all Medical Provider claims. N.J.S.A 34:15-15. In New Jersey, Workers’ Compensation claims must be filed within two years of the date of the accident. N.J.S.A 34:15-51. It was ambiguous whether a Medical Provider had two or six years to file their claim.
The Appellate Division’s decision in Malouf resolved five separate cases with identical factual scenarios. In each case, the Medical Provider sought reimbursement for services provided to an injured employee. They filed their claim more than two years from the date of service, but less than six years. The Respondent Insurance Carriers argued that Medical Providers had two years from the date of treatment to file a dispute in accordance with N.J.S.A 34:15-51. The Workers’ Compensation Judge agreed and dismissed all five cases. The Medical Providers appealed. They asserted that the statute of limitations was six years from the date of the medical services provided in accordance with N.J.S.A 2A:14-1. The Providers argued that medical services are not subject to the two year requirement in N.J.S.A 34:15-51.
The Appellate Division reversed the decision of the Workers’ Compensation Judge. The Appellate Division recognized that the statute of limitations for collection actions was established at six years, and the Legislature did not expressly alter the statute of limitations when it passed the 2012 Amendment to the Workers’ Compensation Act. Had the legislature intended to reduce the statute of limitations from six years to two years, it would have done so explicitly.
This is a big win for Medical Providers. Many cases throughout the Division had been on hold while the parties awaited the Appellate Division’s decision. Unfortunately for the Respondent Carriers, these claims will be permitted to continue. Although the Appellate Division’s decision resolves the legislative ambiguity, files will remain open far longer while the Respondents and Medical Providers resolve their disputes.
 Catherine M. Shiels, Esq. is a Shareholder in GRSLB&G’s Workers’ Compensation Department. She defends employers, insurers, and third party administrators against workers’ compensation claims in New Jersey and New York. Catherine can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
 Alexis Carrelli, Esq. is an Associate in GRSLB&G’s Litigation Department. She defends a wide variety of clients in various civil actions brought forth in New Jersey State and Federal Courts. Alexis can be reached at email@example.com.