New Jersey Workers’ Compensation Attorney
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), more than 70,000 New Jersey employees suffer injury or illness on the job each year. A little more than half of these cases are severe enough that employees must miss work, transfer to another position, or comply with physical or time restrictions set by a doctor.
Severe injuries are not only physically painful, but emotionally stressful, and costly. Those who miss work as a result of injury not only have to cope with pain, but also frequently watch medical and other bills pile up, unpaid. An exerienced New Jersey workers’ compensation attorney can assist you today.
If you have sustained an injury on-the-job, getting compensation for your injuries should be as simple as filing a workers’ compensation claim.
Unfortunately, it isn’t always that easy. Sometimes getting the compensation you deserve requires working with an experienced legal team who can protect your rights.
The skilled New Jersey personal injury lawyers at Jacoby & Meyers, LLP understand the challenges you face in the wake of workplace injury. Our team has the resources and experience to help injured workers get the compensation they deserve for their on-the-job injuries. Contact us at our New Jersey office that is most convenient for you in Edison or Newark for a free case evaluation to determine the best path forward for your circumstances.
What Are Workers’ Compensation Benefits?
The federal government requires the vast majority of businesses to purchase insurance for injuries that occur in the workplace. Each state administers its own workers’ compensation program. In New Jersey, the Department of Labor and Workforce Development administers workers’ compensation insurance and benefits. It is illegal in most cases for a New Jersey employer to fail to purchase workers’ compensation insurance, or to require employees to pay for insurance premiums. In the rare case in which an employer commits that crime, New Jersey’s Uninsured Employers Fund exists to pay injured workers the benefits they need on valid claims.
If you are injured at work in New Jersey, your workers’ compensation coverage generally entitles you to receive:
Workers’ comp insurance pays all necessary and reasonable medical treatment related to a work-related injury or illness. This includes all costs for hospitalization, doctor visits, therapies, and medications. In New Jersey, an employer can select the physician who will treat an injured worker, except in cases of emergency or when the physician refuses treatment for some reason.
New Jersey workers’ compensation disability benefits aim to replace a portion of wages lost as a result of a work-related illness or injury. If your employer’s workers’ compensation carrier approves your claim, you can generally expect to collect 70 percent of your average weekly wage, as long as that does not exceed 75 percent of the Statewide Average Weekly Wage (SAWW) or fall below 20 percent of SAWW. The maximum amount changes each year, based on inflation and other factors set by state law and regulation. In 2018, the maximum amount of disability benefits an injured or sick worker could receive was $1,259 per week.
The length of time a worker remains eligible to receive weekly disability benefits depends on the extent of the injury and the type of disability benefit involved. Eligibility for different types of disability can change, depending principally upon the workers’ health condition.
New Jersey recognizes three types of disability benefits:
- Temporary disability benefits are for injured employees who are unable to work while actively receiving medical treatment. Once a doctor has released an employee to return to work, or the employee reaches maximum medical improvement (MMI), temporary benefits end, and other benefits may begin.
- Permanent partial disability benefits begin once temporary benefits end, if a worker’s injury or illness caused a partial permanent disability. The amount the worker may receive varies based on the percentage of scheduled or non-scheduled losses (a.k.a, injuries) the worker has suffered. Scheduled losses encompass injuries that involve the arms, hands, fingers, legs, feet, toes, eyes, ears, or teeth. Non-scheduled losses address any condition relating to a part of the body not listed as scheduled, such as the back, heart, and lungs.
- Permanent total benefits are for workers whose injury or illness prevents them from returning to their job or seeking any type of gainful employment. Initially, a permanently disabled worker can receive these benefits for 450 weeks. Continuation beyond 450 weeks requires that the worker prove a continuing inability to work. Permanent total benefits are paid at the same rate as temporary benefits. Any worker who loses two major body parts or a combination of eyes, arms, hands, legs or feet automatically qualifies for permanent total benefits.
If you have suffered injuries or illness because of an incident or condition in your workplace, contact the team at Jacoby & Meyers, LLP. Whether or not you have already filed a workers’ compensation claim, we have the skills and resources to help ensure you receive appropriate benefits under New Jersey law.
Workers’ compensation insurance in New Jersey also provides death benefits to eligible surviving family members when a work-related accident or injury leads to death. These benefits consist of weekly payments similar to those described above.
They are typically 70 percent of the weekly wage, and get paid to dependents of the worker who died, subject to the following general guidelines:
- New Jersey law only considers surviving spouses and natural children who lived with the deceased as dependents.
- Spouses and children who did not live with the deceased and other potential dependents must prove dependency to receive death benefits.
- Children only qualify as dependents until age 18, unless they are full-time students. New Jersey law allows students to remain dependents until age 23.
- Children who have physical or mental disabilities might be eligible for additional benefits.
Workers’ compensation death benefits also include up to $3,500 in funeral expenses. Speak with an experienced New Jersey workers’ compensation attorney from Jacoby & Meyers, LLP today to learn about your rights after a tragic loss.
When Do You Need a Lawyer for Workers’ Compensation?
In cases where a workers’ comp claim involves more-severe injuries, more-complicated diagnoses, or more controversial coverage decisions—or when the insurance company just won’t pay a valid claim, in part or in full—an experienced lawyer’s guidance can make the difference between getting the compensation you deserve and getting nothing at all.
Some examples of workers’ compensation claim situations in which the right legal advice can make a big difference include:
- You filed a claim with your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance carrier, but the carrier denied the claim.
- Your employer fired you or retaliated against you in some way because you filed a workers’ compensation claim.
- Your injury or illness resulted from a toxic substance or chemical exposure, or a defective product.
- You sustained an injury on a job site not owned by your employer.
- Your employer failed to purchase workers’ compensation insurance as required by New Jersey and federal law.
- You sustained injuries in a traffic accident while driving or riding in a company vehicle.
- You had a preexisting condition in the same part of your body that sustained injuries at work.
- Your employer or your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance carrier refuses to approve a medically-necessary treatment or surgery.
This is just a partial list. An experienced lawyer can often help with just about any complication involving workers’ comp benefits. Our two cents: it never hurts to contact a lawyer from Jacoby & Meyers, LLP for a free case evaluation about your workers’ comp claim.
Liability in Workers’ Compensation Claims
New Jersey law requires employers to buy workers’ compensation insurance that covers workers against injury or illness regardless of fault. Employers get something in return for that.
Workers don’t have to prove negligence on the parts of their employers, injured or sick workers cannot recover many noneconomic damages like pain and suffering.
However, situations do exist when a third party, like a property owner or equipment manufacturer, may share some or all of the liability for workplace injuries, illnesses or fatalities. Workers may have the right to take legal action for noneconomic damages against those third parties.
Speak with an experienced workers’ comp lawyer at Jacoby & Meyers, LLP about your rights to take legal action outside of your workers’ comp benefits.
What Happens if a Workers’ Comp Carrier Denies Your Claim?
Having your claim denied by a workers’ compensation insurance carrier does not mean you have no options. New Jersey law permits workers to appeal claim denials multiple times. We strongly encourage any worker whose claim gets denied to contact an experienced workers’ compensation attorney right away. The appeal process contains significant legal complications and potential pitfalls for the unwary. Workers who try to appeal a claim denial on their own frequently make preventable mistakes that cost them significant benefits.
How Can a Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Help?
All sorts of complications can arise after an employee gets injured or falls ill on the job. Employers sometimes refuse to report injuries to their insurance carriers, to save on insurance premiums. Workers’ compensation insurance carriers sometimes deny valid claims to avoid paying benefits. Workers victimized by these wrongful actions need skilled, determined legal representation to secure the workers’ compensation benefits they deserve. An experienced New Jersey workers’ comp lawyer can:
Investigate an Injury or Illness
Competent workers’ compensation attorneys have the knowledge and resources to investigate the events and conditions that led to a workplace injury or illness. This includes gathering relevant documents such as medical records and expert opinions from the doctors who treat a worker. In some cases, an attorney asks an independent physician to evaluate the injured worker, for a second opinion about the worker’s health condition. An investigation may also include speaking to those who witnessed a workplace accident, or digging into improper safety practices or inadequate training at a workplace.
New Jersey tries to make applying for workers’ comp benefits easy. It does not always turn out that way. Many claims get denied because of avoidable mistakes in the claim submission process. A skilled and experienced workers’ compensation lawyer can help an injured or sick worker prepare a thorough, comprehensive claim submission, to give the worker the best possible shot at obtaining benefits right off the bat, so that the worker does not have to wait a day longer than necessary to begin receiving much-needed treatment and compensation.
Negotiate With Insurance Companies
Personal injury attorneys are trained negotiators who know how to speak with insurance companies to maximize a client’s chances of receiving benefits and other compensation. An attorney often handles all communications with insurance companies on behalf of a client, giving the client the space to focus on making a maximum recovery from a workplace injury or illness. Lawyers also frequently evaluate a case to determine the monetary value of a claim.
Representation in Appeals and Courts
Lawyers represent injured and sick workers in all legal proceedings relating to a contested workers’ comp claim, from appeals hearings to third party lawsuits. Some of the most important work a skilled workers’ compensation attorney does involve protecting a client’s rights in these proceedings.
New Jersey Workers’ Compensation Frequently Asked Questions FAQs
Victims who suffer injuries in an accident at work have many questions about their injuries, most notably, what compensation and support they deserve. The answers to your specific questions may depend on where your accident occurred, and what factors contributed to your accident. Consult with an attorney to get more information about your specific claim and your injuries. Here, we provide answers to some of the most frequent questions victims of workplace accidents have after their injuries.
How much compensation should I expect after an accident at work?
New Jersey, like most states, bases workers’ compensation benefits on your salary. Your workers’ compensation benefits should include:
Medical treatment for your injuries. The workers’ compensation insurance company that covers your company may designate the doctors and therapists you can use to provide treatment for your injuries. Workers’ compensation should, however, pay for all reasonable and necessary medical treatment associated with your injury.
- Emergency care
- Hospitalization, if needed
- Medical devices
- Treatments for your injury, including surgery
- Therapy during your recovery
A percentage of your income. In New Jersey, you will receive 70 percent of your weekly wages as a temporary disability payment while you cannot return to work during your injuries. State law allows for a maximum of 75 percent of the state’s average weekly wage in payment.
Payment for partial or full disability related to your injuries. In addition to payment for your weekly wages while you recover and payment for your medical expenses, workers’ compensation may offer a lump sum payment if you suffer permanent partial or full disability as a result of your injuries, especially if your injuries prevent you from returning to work in your former capacity.
When do I have grounds for a workers’ compensation claim?
A workers’ comp claim is available when you suffer an injury at work, while on the clock. Often, you will need to file a workers’ compensation claim due to injuries that prevent you from returning to work or injuries that require medical treatment. Suffering an injury at your workplace while performing activities off the clock typically does not entitle you to workers’ compensation benefits.
How is a workers’ compensation claim different from a regular personal injury claim?
A workers’ compensation claim differs from a typical personal injury claim in several key ways.
A personal injury claim relies on determining fault. You will need to establish who caused your injuries when you file a personal injury claim so that you can file your claim against the liable party. In a workers’ compensation claim, on the other hand, you will receive coverage for your medical expenses and wages regardless of who caused your workplace injury.
In a workers’ compensation claim, you will receive full coverage for reasonable medical expenses after your accident, regardless of cost. The cost of your medical bills can quickly escalate following a severe accident. In a personal injury claim, maximum insurance policy limits may determine the medical care the policy covers. If your injuries exceed the maximum amount of the policy, you may not receive coverage for all your medical bills. Recovering from a traumatic brain injury, for example, may cost as much as $3 million, while recovering from severe burns may raise your medical costs to $10 million or more. Many personal injury policies will not pay out for all of those expenses. In a workers’ compensation claim, on the other hand, workers’ comp pays for all reasonable medical expenses.
A workers’ compensation claim does not allow you to claim pain and suffering. As part of a personal injury claim, you can include your intangible losses, including the pain and suffering associated with your injuries. In a workers’ compensation claim, on the other hand, you cannot claim coverage for pain and suffering.
If I file a workers’ compensation claim, do I still have grounds for a personal injury claim?
In some cases, you may have grounds for both a workers’ compensation claim and a personal injury claim following an accident at work with serious injuries. Your employer may provide immediate coverage for your injuries and a percentage of your wages for the duration of your recovery even if another party bears legal liability for your injuries.
For example, if you suffered serious injuries in an auto accident as a delivery driver, your employer may pay your workers’ compensation benefits, but the driver or other entity that caused the accident may also owe you payment for your injuries. You may also have grounds for a personal injury claim if your employer created an unsafe work environment or forced you to adhere to unsafe procedures. Consult an attorney to determine whether you have grounds for a personal injury claim in addition to your workers’ compensation claim.
If you do have grounds for a personal injury claim alongside a workers’ compensation claim, your employer may seek a percentage of the funds you receive in recompense for funds paid out through workers’ compensation.
Workers’ compensation should qualify me for reasonable medical treatment for my injuries, but I cannot get the insurance company to approve the treatment I need. What do I do next?
Contact an attorney if you find yourself fighting to get the compensation you deserve after suffering injuries at work, especially if you cannot get your workers’ compensation insurance to approve needed medical treatment.
- Is the treatment recommended by the doctor your workers’ compensation insurance required you to see? You may have better grounds for getting the treatment you need if the doctors the company works with approve that treatment.
- Do you need an independent medical evaluation? You have the right to request an independent medical evaluation, or a medical evaluation from a different provider, at any point in your treatment. You should request an independent medical evaluation if you feel the doctor you used for your treatment has not provided you with the course of treatment you need. Workers’ compensation insurance companies, however, may also designate the doctor you can see for an independent evaluation. They may simply choose another doctor in their system. In some cases, you may choose to pursue an evaluation from a doctor chosen by you to help prove what treatment you need.
I suffered an injury at work. What should I do to protect myself?
Injuries at work often happen at the worst possible moment. Taking the right steps to protect yourself, regardless of how busy you are or other factors that might stand in your way, can help ensure that you do not miss out on the compensation you deserve.
Make sure you:
- Report your injury immediately. Your employee handbook may have specific procedures that tell you how and when to report an injury. Always report even what you assume to be minor injuries according to the procedures in your handbook. You may need to stop your current line of work and take steps to report your injuries. Do not let tight deadlines or extensive workloads stop you from reporting an injury as soon as possible.
- Seek medical attention for any injury suffered at work. Many workers may attempt to ignore injuries and continue working through them. Construction workers and factory workers, in particular, often shrug off assumed minor injuries and try to get back to work. Any time you suffer an injury at work, seek medical attention as soon as possible.
- Follow all recommendations given by your doctors. Your doctors will provide you with instructions and recommendations that will aid in your recovery. Respect your limitations and follow instructions for therapy and restrictions as you recover. Failure to follow these instructions could slow your recovery and ultimately leave you liable for future problems with your recovery.
Do I have to use the doctors selected by workers’ compensation insurance?
Your workers’ compensation insurance may have a preferred medical provider network. In some cases, you may have the option to choose between the doctors in that network as you receive treatment for your injuries. Conversely, your workers’ compensation insurance may assign you to a specific provider. You should use this provider or other recommended or referred providers within that network to handle all medical care related to your injury.
However, you may have grounds to seek a different provider if:
- Your medical provider does not handle treatment for your injury appropriately. If a medical provider denies needed treatment or does not listen to your concerns, you may want to choose a different provider within the network.
- Your medical provider fails to diagnose your injury properly. If the medical provider you see does not accurately diagnose your injuries, you may need to seek an outside medical opinion or ask for another provider.
Contact an attorney if you believe you may need to see another provider to handle your medical needs, especially if workers’ comp attempts to deny your request. Often, the providers chosen to handle workers’ compensation claims have an agreement with the insurance company. Those providers may attempt to minimize your medical care to reduce the costs associated with treatment. If you believe your doctor has not provided adequate treatment or diagnosis for your injury, you may need assistance from an attorney.
Does workers’ compensation cover illnesses developed due to work requirements?
Some jobs may require you to work with potentially hazardous substances or expose you to chemicals that cause detrimental impacts on your health. You can get workers’ compensation coverage for illnesses that you suffer as a result of work requirements.
If you do receive an illness diagnosis due to your work responsibilities, you should:
- Report that illness at work as soon as possible. You may need to show evidence of the diagnosis as well as how your workplace exposed you to the chemicals or substances that caused that illness.
- Follow the recommendations of your doctor. As with an injury suffered in the workplace, you should follow the recommendations of your doctor with regards to the steps you should take following your injury.
If your workers’ compensation insurance refuses coverage for an illness sustained because of substances and chemicals you faced exposure to at work, you may need an attorney to help you fight for the compensation you deserve.
My doctor says I can return to work with modifications. Does my workplace have to meet those modifications?
Many businesses will attempt to get employees back to work as soon after an injury as possible. That may mean that you go back with certain modifications: activities you cannot perform, a limited work schedule, or special equipment that will allow you to complete your job responsibilities without causing undue problems with your injuries. Other businesses, however, will prefer that you remain out of work until you make a full recovery. Your workplace does have to meet those accommodations to require you to return to work.
Do I have to go back to work if my doctor says I can, but I do not feel that the modifications offered are adequate?
Many people struggle with a return to work after a serious injury. Following a workplace injury, you should work with your doctor and your workplace to come up with an effective plan that will allow you to return to work without causing unnecessary pain or complications as you recover. Your workers’ compensation benefits may stop if you do not return to work after your doctor indicates that you can return to normal duty. You may also lose your workers’ compensation benefits if you refuse to return to light or limited duty after a doctor’s release.
If you believe that you cannot return to work with the accommodations recommended by your doctor and offered by your workplace, you may need an attorney to help fight for continued benefits. An independent medical evaluation can also help prove the continuing extent of your injuries and how they limit your ability to return to work.
Contact a Skilled New Jersey Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Today
If you sustained injuries or illness on the job, or lost a loved one as a result of a workplace incident or condition, New Jersey law entitles you to benefits that allow you to heal and remain on solid financial ground. If you now have a permanent disability, you should not have to cope with the lost income. You deserve benefits and compensation to alleviate your financial burden.
“I highly recommend hiring Jacoby & Meyers should you ever find yourself injured in an accident, and an individual or company needs to be held accountable for their negligence.” -C.J.
The skilled legal team at Jacoby & Meyers, LLP has the resources and experience to help injured and sick New Jersey workers obtain the workers’ compensation benefits they need. We have helped many people just like you recover compensation.
Contact us online, call our offices in Edison or Newark at (877) 505-2368, or start a live, online chat for a free case evaluation of your worker’s compensation claim.