Getting hurt on the job can be a scary and overwhelming experience. Any type of personal injury has the potential to take you away from work. When your injury actually happens at work, however, it is normal to wonder if your career is in jeopardy. Will you be able to continue your employment? Will you be able to cover your medical expenses? What if you were to blame for the accident? These are just some of the questions you may have after a serious workplace accident.
Luckily, New Jersey law protects you after a workplace injury. Workers’ compensation is a right for most workers in New Jersey. The law protects workers by giving them access to compensation for work-related accidents, including payment for all medical treatment, as well as money to cover your lost wages. You are entitled to these benefits, even if your own negligence led to your accident. The law also prohibits employers from firing a worker just because he or she filed a workers’ compensation claim.
At Rosner Law Offices, P.C., we have a long history of helping New Jersey workers and their families. We assist hard-working people in a variety of occupations and industries. If you have been injured on the job, we will help you understand your rights. Whether you need to file a new workers’ compensation claim or fight a denial of benefits, we’ve got your back.
What are Workers’ Compensation Benefits
Workers’ compensation benefits protect both the worker and the employer. After an accident, the injured worker is entitled to receive benefits quickly to offset the costs of medical expenses, as well as a portion of their lost wages. They don’t have to prove negligence or establish fault and in most cases, they can collect these benefits even if they’re to blame for the accident. The employer, however, is protected from litigation and lawsuits.
Unlike Social Security Disability Insurance and Medicare, however, if you are injured at work, your workers’ compensation benefits should begin quickly – in as little as seven days. If you are injured in a workplace accident, you are entitled to receive specific benefits including:
Medical payments – New Jersey’s Workers’ Compensation system provides medical payments for injured workers. The employer and their insurance carrier has the right to select health care providers, however. They must treat all necessary medical conditions, including anything reasonable and medically necessary to help the employer return to work. This can include glasses, teeth, hearing aids, and other medical aids.
Temporary disability benefits– if you are unable to work due to a workplace injury or illness, you are entitled to collect a portion of your lost wages or temporary disability benefits. The amount you are owed is based on 70% of your average weekly wage, including overtime, tips, bonuses etc up to a maximum amount. In 2018, injured workers were entitled to receive a minimum of $241 a week and a maximum of $903 in lost wages benefits. You lose this benefit once you return to work or once you are said to have reached maximum medical improvement.
Permanent disability benefits – if you are disabled due to a workplace accident, you are also entitled to permanent disability benefits. The amount of benefits you would be eligible for depends on the area of your body that is disabled and the degree of impairment.
Permanent total disability – if your injury renders you unable to work in any capacity, then you would qualify for permanent total disability benefits for life. Social Security or other types of disability benefits may reduce the amount of benefits you are eligible to receive, however. You may be able to receive these benefits monthly or as a lump sum payment.
Permanent partial disability – if your injury results in a partial disability, you are eligible to collect specific benefits for the loss of that functioning. Your doctor will determine the amount of disability you now face as a result of your injury. Then you would be eligible to receive benefits for a specific amount of time based on the percentage of loss of function you suffered. For example, if you suffered a permanent injury to your hand and your doctor determines that you are 10% disabled in that hand, you would receive benefits for 24.5 weeks. In contrast, if you are 25% disabled in your back, you would receive benefits for 150 weeks.
Death benefits – if a loved one dies in a workplace accident, the New Jersey Workers’ Compensation system provides the worker’s dependents with death benefits, including burial costs paid.
Filing a NJ Workers’ Compensation Claim
In order to obtain the benefits to which you are entitled by New Jersey law, you must follow specific steps.
Seek medical attention immediately – after a workplace accident, many injured workers fail to seek medical attention. Maybe their worried about losing their job or maybe they just don’t believe that they are really injured? Failing to report your injury can have disastrous consequences. Suppose you were injured on Friday at work but waited until Monday to seek medical attention and notify your employer. Your employer’s insurance company may deny your claim by asserting that you may have been injured over the weekend instead of “on the job.”
Tell the doctor about your workplace injury – be sure your doctor notes in your chart that you were injured at work. This is often a critical step to filing a workers’ compensation claim.
Report your injury to your employer – you should report your injury to your employer as soon as you are able. While you have 90 days to report this injury, failure to report it quickly can result in your claim being denied or unfairly scrutinized. Put this notice in writing with the date and time of the injury clearly marked. Submit this report to your boss, supervisor, or manager and always keep a copy for your records.
Check on the status of your claim – once you’ve submitted a notice of injury to your boss, your employer must file a First Report of Injury form with the New Jersey Division of Workers’ Compensation within 21 days of your notice. Check on the status of this report, and ensure that your employer is doing their part.
Receive benefits – if your claim is accepted, you should begin receiving your benefits quickly. If accepted, your employer will pay for all of your medical expenses and the lost wages you are entitled to receive.
Claim denied – if your claim is denied at this stage, it is important to speak to an experienced New Jersey workers’ compensation lawyer immediately. Your lawyer will either need to file a formal Claim Petition or apply for an Informal hearing to have your claim reviewed. All informal hearings are reviewed by a judge of compensation and will be scheduled quickly within a few weeks. All formal claim petitions, however, can take up to six months before you get a hearing. You only have two years from the date of your injury to file a Claim Petition.
Appeal decision – if you disagree with the judge’s ruling on your Claim Petition, you have a right to appeal the decision. Your NJ workers’ compensation attorney can help you review all of your legal rights and protect your future during this time.
Make Workers’ Compensation Work for You
The workers’ compensation system may sound simple in theory, but in practice it is often much more complicated than people expect. There are strict rules for notifying your employer of an accident, filing your claim, and pursuing medical treatment. If you fail to follow the rules, you could hurt your case or miss out on important benefits.
It is also important to understand that insurance companies are the ones who handle workers’ compensation claims. In most cases, an injured worker will submit a claim to the employer’s workers’ compensation insurance carrier. Like any other for-profit business, these insurance companies make more money when they deny benefits or pay out as little as possible. They have a powerful incentive to minimize the value of your claim, or to outright deny it.
Our Vineland Workers Compensation Attorneys know how these insurance companies operate. We know the intimidation tactics they use to scare and to pressure people. As committed advocates for workers’ rights, we go up against these insurance companies any chance we get. You work hard. We will work just as hard to make sure you get the workers’ compensation benefits to which you are entitled.
Whether you got hurt on a construction site, or you slipped and fell in your office’s parking lot, you are probably entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. Protect your legal rights by speaking to New Jersey workers’ compensation attorneys who can help.
Call a Vineland, NJ Workers’ Compensation Attorney About Your Claim
Our NJ workers Compensation Lawyers have recovered millions for our clients. If you need to file a workers’ compensation claim, or your workers’ compensation claim has been denied, you need the help and advice of an experienced Vineland workers’ compensation attorneys. Don’t wait to speak to a lawyer about your case. We will walk you through the workers’ compensation claim process, and help you protect your legal rights. Rosner Law Offices, P.C. today at Call (856)-692-6500.