New Jersey Workers' Compensation Lawyers
If you suffer a work-related injury or illness in the state of New Jersey, your claim will be handled by the Division of Workers’ Compensation. This is a state agency – workers’ compensation cases go through the Division rather than the court system. Most work injuries are covered, including repetitive stress injuries such as carpal tunnel from typing, or a broken shoulder from a construction accident. Some illnesses also are covered, as long as they are caused by the individual’s work, such as lung disease from inhaling toxins on the job. If your injury was pre-existing but made worse by your job duties, it also should be covered by workers’ compensation.
New Jersey is a no-fault state for workers’ compensation, meaning that you can receive workers’ compensation benefits regardless of who was at fault for your injury. If you made a mistake that led to your injury, you’re still covered. In exchange, if your employer was at fault, you cannot sue them for negligence. Workers’ compensation is your only recourse for a work-related injury. There is a small exception for instances where an employee is intentionally injured by their employer.
Workers’ compensation benefits available in New Jersey include:
- Medical benefits. Workers’ comp will pay 100% of your medical bills for treatment that is reasonable and necessary. This includes things like prescriptions and hospital stays.
- Temporary Total Disability. TTD benefits are available for injured employees who are unable to work and are receiving medical care. TTD payments are generally 70% of the employee’s (gross) average weekly wage. The amount is subject to a maximum and minimum. For 2009, the maximum is $773.00 and the minimum is $206. These limits are based on the state average weekly wage.
- Permanent Partial Disability. A permanent partial disability entitles you to ongoing benefits. The amount of your weekly payment depends on the type of injury you have (which part of your body is disabled), as well as the severity of the injury. These benefits begin after TTD benefits end.
- Permanent Total Disability. If you are unable to return to any type of work due to a work-related injury, more permanent benefits are available. These benefits are generally 70% of your (gross) average weekly wage – the same amount you were receiving for TTD. Permanent total disability is available for life.
Under the New Jersey workers’ compensation system, there is seven day waiting period before a worker is entitled to benefits. Benefits are then retroactive to the first day of disability.
In New Jersey, the employer or carrier is permitted to specify the doctor who treats work-related injuries. In other words, your employer or the insurance company can tell you which doctor you have to see. However, if you do not feel you are receiving the medical care you need, you can file a motion and a judge will determine whether you are entitled to additional or different treatment.
Workers’ compensation attorneys charge clients on a contingency basis. This means that you only pay if your attorney gets you benefits. If you lose your case and receive nothing, you pay nothing. Because you won’t have to pay an hourly fee for your lawyer’s time, it makes sense to go with the best lawyer or firm that you can find. We recommend finding a lawyer or firm who focuses their practice on representing injured workers, rather than a firm or attorney who only does workers’ comp on the side.
In New Jersey, attorney fees for workers’ compensation cases are limited to 20% of the award, subject to a maximum amount. This means that if you end up getting $50,000, your attorney can receive $10,000. If you recover nothing, you will not pay any attorney fees.
There are important steps to follow in order to ensure that you receive benefits. First, you should notify your employer of your injury as soon as possible. Notice does not have to be in writing, but you should tell your employer immediately if you are hurt. The employer is then required to file a first report of accident. Then, you have a certain amount of time to file a claim with the Division of Workers’ Compensation. You have two years from the date of injury to file a claim. If you have received benefits, you have two years from the date of the last payment. If you are filing a claim for an occupational injury, you have two years from the last time you were exposed. If you miss these deadlines, your claim could be barred forever.
Workers’ compensation cases and claims are not lawsuits. They are more similar to claims against a health insurance carrier. Your attorney will be working with the insurance company, not directly with your employer. But unlike a health insurance claim, attorneys are often hired for a workers’ compensation claim. Hiring an attorney who has experience negotiating with insurance companies and navigating the New Jersey workers’ compensation system can make a difference.
We always recommend consulting with an attorney if you are injured on the job. You may need help getting a claim started if your employer is dragging their feet. Or maybe you need additional medical care, or believe you aren’t receiving the proper wage loss benefits. A good workers’ compensation lawyer can guide you through the process and give you peace of mind that you’ll be receiving the benefits to which you’re entitled.
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