Newark Workers’ Compensation Attorneys

From the cherry trees in Branch Brook Park to the New Jersey Performing Arts Center, Newark is a great place to live. But what happens if you’re hurt on the job in Newark or anywhere else in New Jersey? The answer is workers’ compensation, which allows you to receive medical benefits and a portion of your salary while you recover from injuries incurred while at work.

Workers’ compensation in New Jersey also provides permanent disability compensation if necessary, and offers death benefits to dependents of workers who have died as a result of work-related injuries or illnesses.

Unfortunately, workplaces across the United States aren’t getting any safer. Roughly 85,600 workers were injured on the job every week nationwide in the last year for which statistics are available, according to Safety + Health’s 2020 State of Safety. The most worker-related fatalities are in three sectors: (1) construction, (2) transportation and warehouse work, and (3) agriculture.

While you can file a workers’ compensation claim yourself, the process can be complicated, and denials are not uncommon. Consulting an experienced Newark Workers’ Compensation Lawyer, like those at Jacoby & Meyers, LLP, can help you negotiate the process and strengthen the likelihood of getting the maximum benefits to which you are entitled. Call us today to discuss your case.

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What Are Workers’ Compensation Benefits?

Workers’ compensation, often called “workers’ comp” for short, is a state-mandated program that compensates employees who are injured or become ill on the job. Employers pay into workers’ comp to cover the payments.

Workers’ comp claims do not rely on any finding of fault. In other words, you do not need to take your employer to court to prove that they caused your injury or illness, and they do not have to try to prove that you were responsible to avoid liability, either. The workers’ compensation process does not involve a court case, but rather a filing for compensation for medical treatment and partial salary replacement while you recover, and for disability, if medical professionals determine that you are disabled.

In New Jersey, all employers not covered by federal programs need to have workers’ compensation or be self-insured.

Filing for Workers’ Compensation Benefits: You Must Follow Specific Steps

Injured or ill workers must follow specific steps to receive workers’ compensation benefits. If you are injured at work (or on work-related tasks or errands), or you become ill because of job-related conditions, you should seek pre-authorization from your employer to see a doctor or go to a medical institution, like a hospital or clinic.

Generally, employers will provide you with a list of approved doctors, clinics, and hospitals. If you go to a doctor on your own, your medical costs may not be covered through workers’ compensation benefits. The only exception is if your injuries are an emergency requiring immediate medical care, such as immediate transport by ambulance and surgery.

The next step is to communicate with your healthcare providers both about workers’ compensation and your injuries or illness. Tell them clearly that your condition is work-related and that you will be filing for workers’ comp. Describe what happened and your symptoms clearly.

During your recovery, make sure to follow all the care recommendations from your healthcare providers. Get any prescriptions filled and be sure to take the medications. Follow up with any rehabilitative therapy recommendations. Also, make sure to keep a copy of all of your records, including bills, prescriptions, and other paperwork.

You need to report your injury (or date your first noticed illness) to your employer as soon as possible, and within 90 days of the date of injury. The best idea is to report it in writing. Note the date and time of the injury and your supervisor’s name (or another person in authority to whom you reported it). Keep a copy of the report that you give your employer. Once your employer receives your report, it (or its workers’ comp insurer) needs to file a form called First Report of Injury with the New Jersey Division of Workers’ Compensation within 21 days.

Next, your employer’s workers’ comp insurer will investigate your claim. The net result is a decision to accept or deny the claim. If your claim is accepted, your medical bills (plus transportation costs to medical treatment) will be paid under workers’ comp, as will your partial wage payments. If your claim is denied, you have several routes of appeal open to you. A lawyer can help you file an appeal and discuss the merits of each potential option.

Appealing a Denial

In New Jersey, workers’ comp insurance applicants whose claims are denied can either file an Application for an Informal Hearing or file a formal Claim Petition. In informal hearings, a judge of compensation reviews your case, usually within a few weeks. The judge will suggest methods of resolving any dispute with your employer or with the workers’ compensation insurance carrier. These suggestions aren’t binding (meaning you are not required to follow them if you don’t agree).

You can file a formal Claim Petition either after the Informal Hearing or decide to file a formal Claim Petition immediately. Claim Petitions are also reviewed by a judge of compensation, normally within six months of the appeal filing. Claim Petitions usually require evidence. Medical records are one form of evidence, as is expert testimony from healthcare professionals. The judge listens to and reviews the evidence and makes a decision.

Workers have two years from the date of their injuries (or the last compensation check received) in which they can file a Claim Petition. The two-year limit includes any period spent in informal hearings. If the judge denies your Claim Petition, you can appeal the judge’s decision to the New Jersey Superior Court Appellate Division.

Our Newark workers’ comp lawyers can properly file your application, represent you during the hearing, and improve your chances of getting the best decision possible for you.

If My Claim Is Approved, What Benefits Will I Receive?

The workers’ compensation program in New Jersey pays out several types of benefits, including the following:

Medical Benefits

Workers’ compensation benefits include payment for any authorized, necessary medical treatment.

Temporary Disability Benefits

Workers’ comp pays partial salary compensation (termed “temporary disability benefits”) if your job-related injury or illness causes you to miss over 7 days of work. These benefits are calculated as 70 percent of your average weekly wage before being injured, subject to a maximum cap. In 2020, the minimum benefit is $252 per week, and the maximum is $945.

These benefits will be paid until either:

  • You can return to work,
  • You have received 400 weeks of benefits, or
  • You have reached maximum medical improvement.

Maximum medical improvement means that, even if you receive further treatment, doctors have determined that you are unlikely to improve further. If that occurs, a doctor will determine if you have a permanent disability as a result of your job-related injury or illness. If you do, the benefits you’ll receive depend on whether you can work in some capacity or cannot work at all going forward.

Permanent Partial Disability Benefits

If you’ve reached maximum medical improvement but still have a medical condition or are impaired from your on-the-job injury or illness, you may be eligible for permanent partial disability benefits. These benefits are paid at a rate determined by (1) your wages before the injury, (2) the extent of the impairment, and (3) the affected part of your body, if relevant.

The New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development publishes a schedule of the maximum benefits vis-à-vis body part impairment and percentage of lost function. Most are calculated at 70 percent of pre-injury wages and extend for multiple weeks, depending on the severity of the injury and loss of function.

Permanent Total Disability Benefits

If you are deemed permanently disabled, and the disability is total, which means you can’t work again, you can continue to receive weekly benefit payments (at the temporary benefit rate) for a total of 450 weeks (more than 8.5 years).

After the 450-week period, you will need to be evaluated again. Sometimes, injured people are mandated to receive educational training or physical rehabilitation. If you have, but you still can’t earn the same income as before your injury, your benefits will be extended as long as you remain disabled. If you can work again and earn an income, your benefits may be reduced in proportion to these wages.

Death Benefits

If a worker dies as a result of a work-related injury or illness, his or her dependents may be eligible for death benefits. These are paid weekly and are equal to 70 percent of the deceased person’s average weekly wages.

These benefits are divided among the surviving dependents. A surviving spouse and children who were part of the deceased person’s household are usually presumed to be dependents. Children are dependents up to the age of 18 (23 if a full-time student).

If there is a surviving spouse or child who wasn’t part of the deceased person’s household, or other dependents, that individual will need to prove his or her dependency to a judge.

Funeral Expenses

The deceased person’s employer (or workers’ comp insurer) is responsible for payment of as much as $3,500 in funeral expenses. The funeral expense benefit can be paid to anyone who pays the funeral bill, whether it be an individual or the estate.

What Injuries and Illnesses Are Covered by Workers’ Compensation Benefits?

Virtually any kind of injury or illness that an individual could suffer in a work-related capacity can be covered under workers’ compensation benefits. People can fall from great heights on construction sites, for example, or get caught between moving objects. They can be electrocuted, and they can suffer repetitive strain injuries.

The injuries and work-related illnesses that are covered under workers’ comp include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Broken bones
  • Sprains
  • Torn ligaments and tendons
  • Burns
  • Back injuries
  • Neck injuries
  • Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs)
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Knee injuries
  • Repetitive stress injuries
  • Loss of vision
  • Loss of limb
  • Loss of hearing
  • Lacerations
  • Internal injuries
  • Illnesses from exposure to toxic mold
  • Illnesses from exposure to toxic chemicals
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Cancer

What Is a Section 20 Settlement?

At times, an insurance carrier might deny your workers’ comp claim or dispute a part of it. In New Jersey, you can resolve these disputes with a Section 20 or Section 22 settlement.

In a Section 20 settlement, you relinquish all future rights to workers’ comp claims (including medical benefits) in exchange for a final monetary settlement. This is paid in a lump sum rather than weekly.

You cannot file a workers’ comp claim again if you accept a Section 20 settlement, even if your physical condition becomes worse. Both you and your employer must agree to this type of settlement, and a judge must approve of it, as well.

A Section 20 settlement is used if there is an issue about the injury’s cause, liability, or jurisdiction. It’s prudent to discuss the pros and cons of such a settlement with a seasoned attorney before making a decision.

What Is a Section 22 Settlement?

A Section 22 settlement is an agreement to accept a specific permanent disability rating. The insurer will pay the agreed-upon benefit in installments.

Unlike Section 20 claims, with a Section 22 settlement, you can reopen your workers’ comp claim and ask for additional benefits if your condition gets worse. When you agree to a Section 22 settlement, you do not give up your right to future medical care, and if your condition worsens, you can reopen your workers’ comp claim and ask for additional disability benefits. However, you only have two years from the last payment due under the settlement to reopen the claim.

Can I Receive Compensation for Pain and Suffering Under Workers’ Compensation?

When people are injured by the actions (or failure to act) of another party, they can sometimes receive compensation for pain and suffering. However, pain and suffering is not compensated under workers’ compensation benefits.

The primary reason for this lack of coverage is that workers’ comp is no-fault insurance. It is designed to be paid to eligible injured workers, regardless of who or what caused the injury or illness. Regardless, injured individuals are eligible to receive pain and suffering awards if their injury was caused by the negligence of another party, and they bring a personal injury lawsuit.

Call Our Seasoned Newark Workers’ Compensation Lawyers Today

Workers’ compensation claims can be complicated to file and to appeal. The best approach is to have the experienced attorneys at Jacoby and Meyers, LLP, assist you with your claim. We have successfully negotiated workers’ comp claims and appeals for past clients. Not only that, we can rely on help from our sister firm, which has spent five decades fighting for workers’ compensation and Social Security disability benefits for injured workers. At https://www.foalaw.com/, you can see what a powerful ally Jacoby & Meyers, LLP, has in them.

Call us at (973) 643-2707, use our contact page to write to us, or start a live chat with one of our representatives, and we’ll provide a free evaluation of your case.

Newark Office

50 Park Place, Suite 1101
Newark, NJ 07102
973-643-2707

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