Edison Workers’ Compensation Attorneys
New Jersey law requires virtually all employers to carry workers’ compensation insurance, a form of coverage that protects New Jersey workers against the costs of getting injured or falling ill in connection with their employment. In New Jersey, workers’ compensation is a no-fault insurance system, which means that employees receive compensation regardless of who is at fault for the employee’s injury or illness.
Despite that, however, injured workers and families of workers who died tragically because of a workplace condition or incident sometimes face challenges in obtaining the workers’ compensation benefits they need and deserve. Workers in and around Edison, New Jersey, who suffer on-the-job injuries can increase their odds of recovering every penny the law requires by hiring an experienced Edison personal injury attorney.
Jacoby & Meyers, LLP’s New Jersey Workers’ Compensation Practice
Since our founding in 1972, the lawyers at Jacoby & Meyers, LLP have committed their careers to fighting for the rights of fellow New Jerseyans who have sustained serious injuries and lost loved ones in preventable accidents and incidents. From the beginning, a significant part of our law practice has focused on representing injured workers in connection with obtaining workers’ compensation benefits and in pursuing other types of compensation through legal action.
The team at our Edison, New Jersey office has a long track record of making sure workers get fair and just treatment from the state workers’ compensation system and, when applicable, in New Jersey courts. Finally, Jacoby & Meyers, LLP, has an important asset we can use in cases like yours—our sister law firm has a half a century of experience fighting for workers’ compensation and Social Security disability benefits for injured workers like you. Find out about them at https://www.foalaw.com/, then call us today to take advantage of that partnership.
“Great experience with skilled legal individuals that know what they are doing.” -Nesha G.
New Jersey Workers’ Compensation Benefits
In New Jersey, workers’ compensation insurance provides an array of potential benefits for injured and sick workers, and for the families of workers who die because of a workplace incident or condition. These benefits include the following categories.
Workers’ compensation insurance pays for the reasonable medical care an injured worker needs to diagnose, treat, and recover from a work-related injury or illness. This includes prescriptions, hospitalization, and other types of medical treatment. An employer or its insurance company has a right to require that a worker who has suffered a work injury or contracted a work-related illness obtain medical care from a specific health care provider. If the employee needs emergency care or if an employer or insurance company unreasonably refuses to approve medical treatment, the employee may seek the care of the provider of his or her choosing.
Temporary Permanent Disability Benefits
If you are disabled cannot work while under active medical care for longer than seven days, you are eligible to receive temporary total disability benefits. These benefits are paid at a rate of 70 percent of your average weekly wage. Regardless of the amount of your average weekly wage, this type of disability benefit may not exceed 75 percent of the Statewide Average Weekly Wage (SAWW – the average wage earned by all employees covered by the unemployment compensation law) or fall below 20 percent of the SAWW.
Temporary permanent disability benefits usually end as soon as the employee is discharged from medical treatment and can return to work in some capacity, or has reached maximum medical improvement (MMI). At this point, the worker may still be left with either partial or total permanent injuries, which may entitle the worker to additional benefits.
Partial Permanent Disability Benefits
Sometimes a work-related injury or illness causes a partial permanent disability and results in benefits payments for the worker. These benefits are based upon the percentage of either scheduled or non-scheduled losses the employee has suffered. Losses involving toes, feet, eyes, ears, teeth, arms, legs, hands, or fingers are scheduled losses. Non-scheduled losses involve any other type of system or area of the body not specified as a scheduled loss. Partial permanent disability benefits are only paid once temporary disability payments end. The employer’s insurance company pays these benefits weekly.
Permanent Total Disability Benefits
Some work-related injuries or illnesses make it impossible for an employee to return to any kind of meaningful or gainful employment. An employee is presumed to have a permanent total disability if he or she has lost two major members of the body (limbs, digits, etc.), or some other combination of injuries that make a worker unemployable. These employees may receive permanent total disability benefits.
Such benefits are paid every week for an initial period of 450 weeks—just a bit longer than 8.5 years. Upon a showing by the employee that he or she is cannot earn an income after that period, payments will continue beyond 450 weeks.
Permanent total disability benefits, like other workers’ compensation benefits, are based on the employee’s average weekly wage and may not exceed 75 percent of the SAWW or fall below 20 percent of the SAWW.
The family of a worker who suffers a fatal injury or passes away from an illness contracted at work can file a claim for death benefits under New Jersey workers’ compensation law. The Commissioner of Labor establishes a maximum annual death benefit, which the amount of weekly benefits paid as death benefits (calculated at 70 percent of the weekly wage of the deceased family member) may not exceed.
Death benefits are divided among the deceased worker’s surviving dependents in the manner determined by a judge after holding a hearing. The deceased worker’s spouse and children who, at the time of death, were a part of the household are presumed to be dependents. Children of a deceased worker are considered dependents until they reach the age of 18, or in the case of a full-time student, until they reach age 23.
Other dependents, such as a surviving spouse or children who weren’t a part of the decedent’s household at the time of death, as well as grandchildren, siblings, parents, and grandparents, must prove that they were actually a dependent of the deceased worker. The deceased’s children with mental or physical disabilities may be eligible for additional benefits.
In addition to weekly cash death benefits, the family of a fatally-injured worker may receive up to $3,500 in funeral and burial expenses.
Can I Also Sue for a New Jersey Workplace Injury or Illness?
It’s possible, depending upon the facts of your injury or illness.
Generally speaking, you cannot sue your employer. The tradeoff for New Jersey’s no-fault system of workers’ compensation insurance is that employees may not bring a civil lawsuit against their employers for damages arising from a workplace injury or illness, except in the case of an injury or illness resulting from an employer’s intentional wrong. Speak with a lawyer to understand your rights, if any, against your employer.
Some workplace injuries and illnesses, however, happen because of the poor decisions or dangerous actions of a third party—someone other than the injured worker or the worker’s employer or co-workers. For example, if a defect in a gas storage tank causes it to explode on a job site, the tank’s manufacturer could have legal liability to a worker injured in the explosion, even if the worker also recovers workers’ compensation benefits (although the worker’s employer may receive credit against amounts paid by a third party). As above, the best way to determine if you may have legal rights against third parties for your workplace injury or illness is to speak with an experienced Edison workers’ compensation attorney.
What if an Employer Does Not Carry Workers’ Compensation Insurance?
Employers who fail to carry workers’ compensation as required by New Jersey law are subject to serious financial penalties. For the first 20 days of noncompliance they can be fined up to $5,000. For each subsequent 10-day period, they can be fined up to an additional $5,000.
Anyone who learns of an employer’s noncompliance with workers’ compensation law can file a complaint with the Office of Special Compensation Funds. Speak with an experienced workers’ compensation attorney before taking this step, to ensure your rights stay protected.
What to Do When You Get Hurt or Sick at Work
Edison, New Jersey-area workers who get hurt or sick in connection with their employment should follow some basic steps to protect their legal rights and to help ensure they receive the maximum compensation they deserve.
Notify Your Employer
Tell your employer about your injury or illness as soon as possible. Preferably, notify your employer immediately, but do not wait more than 90 days or you could lose your rights to workers’ compensation benefits. It is especially important to notify your employer of any injury or illness that will require medical care. You can give notice orally or in writing to a supervisor, HR person, or anyone else in a position of authority at your workplace.
Seek Medical Treatment
If you need medical care for your injury or illness, then get it. Keep in mind, however, that unless you need emergency care, your employer has the right to select the doctor who treats you. Even if you receive medical care, you will need to notify your employer of who treated you, and you may subsequently be required to receive care from an employer-approved physician. Do not make the mistake of assuming that any doctor is covered by workers’ compensation. In New Jersey, it is best to check with your employer first before scheduling an appointment with a health care provider to make sure the provider is covered by workers’ comp.
In all events, be sure to follow your doctor’s treatment plan. Take your medicine, keep follow-up appointments, and go to prescribed physical therapy. Failing to follow a treatment plan could put your workers’ compensation benefits at risk.
Wait for a Decision
In New Jersey, injured workers do not need to file a claim right away to receive benefits. Instead, after you have fulfilled your obligation by reporting your injury to your employer and seeking care from an approved medical provider, your employer then has certain requirements it must follow. Firstly, your employer must notify its workers’ compensation insurance carrier immediately. This allows a First Report of Injury to be filed with the State, which the insurance company must file within 21 days of receipt of the report.
Once the insurance company has received a report from an employer whose employee has been injured at work, it will evaluate the claim and decide whether to pay benefits to the employee covered under the employer’s plan. It will do this by contacting the employer, the employee, and those who provided medical treatment to the employee.
What to Do if Workers’ Comp Denies Your Claim
As you may have guessed, an insurance company or employer can refuse to provide benefits to an injured or sick worker. Disputes between the parties may arise regarding the type or extent of required medical treatment, disagreements over whether the injury or illness actually resulted from a work-related accident, or the payment of disability benefits.
If your claim is denied, then you have the right to file a claim with the Department of Labor’s Division of Workers’ Compensation. You have the right to request an informal or formal hearing at which the dispute will be decided by a judge of compensation. Any party that disagrees with that judge’s decision may then file an appeal.
Speak with an experienced New Jersey workers’ compensation attorney as soon as possible if you receive notice of denial of workers’ compensation benefits. You have important rights at stake, and it is easy to make an error in choosing how to address your claim denial. Even deciding between a formal and informal hearing request can have significant legal and practical consequences. Do not risk your rights by making a decision that can affect the workers’ compensation benefits you receive without first consulting with experienced legal counsel.
Call Our Edison Workers’ Compensation Lawyers Now
At Jacoby & Meyers, LLP, our team has committed itself to fighting for the rights of fellow Edison residents struggling with the aftermath of a work injury or illness. If you got hurt or sick at work, then call the experienced workers’ compensation team in our Edison office to learn about your rights. We have three easy ways for you to reach us whenever it’s convenient for you. You can start a live chat with us, call (732) 287-6890, or contact us online for a free case evaluation.