The New Jersey workers’ compensation system goes under the microscope during a special hearing before the Senate Labor Committee. The Committee is convening in response to a series of negative articles in the Star-Ledger regarding the bureaucracy surrounding workers’ compensation that never came.

Set up almost 100 years ago to protect factory owners from expensive lawsuits, the workers’ comp system is designed to provide workers with prompt medical treatment and replacement of lost earning capacity.

State law requires every employer to buy compensation insurance for their workers. The New Jersey Labor Department revealed that thousands of employers don’t. This puts the onus on taxpayers, charitable groups and others to provide medical treatment for the uninsured employees who get injured.

Thousands of workers whose compensation benefits are delayed for years while insurers or state attorneys wrangled over the treatment and costs.

Supporters of the current workers’ comp system maintain that it is working well, but critics claim it needs an overhaul. One senator said the system is completely broken and needs to be put back together.