Benefits Provided by the N.J. Workers’ Compensation Act
The purpose of the New Jersey Workers’ Compensation Act is to ensure that employees injured during the course of employment receive fair compensation for their injuries. The Act provides for three different types of benefits for injured workers: (1) medical; (2) temporary disability; and (3) permanent disability benefits. With regard to medical benefits, the employer’s workers’ compensation insurance carrier is required to pay 100% of all medical bills for treatment rendered by a physician of their choice. If the physician authorized by the workers’ compensation carrier determines that the employee is unable to work as a result of his injuries, then the employee is entitled to receive temporary disability benefits in the amount of 70% of his average weekly wages. After the employee has been released from medical treatment, he may be entitled to receive some percentage of permanent disability benefits, if the injuries caused a significant restriction in the employee’s abilities.
If you are injured while performing work for an employer, you are protected by the Workers’ Compensation Act. Fault or negligence is not a requirement for obtaining benefits. It does not even matter whether you were blamed for the accident – you would still be entitled to benefits if the accident occurred during the course of your employment. If an accident occurs, you should immediately report it to a supervisor. Thereafter, the employer should notify its workers’ compensation insurance carrier of the accident. You should thereafter expect to receive a letter from the workers’ compensation carrier, providing a claim number, and the name and address of the physician who is authorized to treat you. If the employer or the workers’ compensation carrier refuses to provide medical treatment, you should immediately contact an attorney. Even if the workers’ compensation carrier voluntarily provides medical treatment and temporary disability benefits, you will not receive the full amount you are entitled to for “permanent” disability benefits, unless a Claim Petition is filed on your behalf with the Division of Workers’ Compensation.
Some injuries occur over a period of time, from constant physical and/or emotional stress, or exposure to chemicals and other irritants. Such injuries are considered “occupational,” rather than traumatic in nature. Occupational injuries are more difficult to prove, and workers’ compensation carriers rarely accept such claims without litigation. Examples of occupational injuries include: carpal tunnel syndrome, obstructive pulmonary disease, asbestosis, degenerative disc disease, and post-traumatic stress disorder. If you have reason to believe that you suffer from such an occupational injury, you should immediately report it to your supervisor, and request medical treatment. If the employer refuses to provide medical treatment, you may seek treatment with your own physician and advise the doctor of your occupation. If you receive medical advice indicating that your condition is related to your employment, you have two years from the date you knew or should have known that you sustained a work-related injury to file a claim with the Division of Workers’ Compensation.
Fear of Retaliation
Many people we meet are afraid to file a workers’ compensation claim because they fear retaliation by their employers. Yet, the very employees who fail to file a formal workers’ compensation claim are the most at risk. Those who are receiving medical benefits and temporary disability are under the mistaken belief that they are receiving all that they are entitled to, and don’t want to “rock the boat” by getting a lawyer involved. Others are illegally advised by their employers to use their health insurance to treat a work related injury. To do so, that employee must deny that a work related injury occurred. Yet, six months later, they are laid off due to a work slow-down, or because they are not performing up to par due to the work injury. They now lose their health insurance, and it is much more difficult to file a workers’ compensation claim because the medical records already indicate that the injury did not occur at work. The very same employees who were trying to do the right thing by not filing a claim have left their families high and dry. The employer washes its hands of that worker, and moves one. Meanwhile, the injured worker must still feed his children, and pay for his own health insurance while being unemployed.
Why You Need a Lawyer
Don’t be one on the statistics – an employee who begins a slow downward spiral following a work accident, who sits on his rights and suffers as a result. Let us help you to protect your family by enforcing your right to demand quality medical care and fair compensation for your injuries.
We believe that the first step in protecting your rights is to understand them, so that you may plan accordingly. You will not be well-served by an attorney who makes unrealistic promises or keeps you in the dark. For employees who If you live paycheck to paycheck, it is even more critical to have a realistic understanding of what will occur during the course of pursuing a workers’ compensation claim. You must inform yourself so that you are not surprised by the termination of benefits or medical treatment, and you have a reasonable expectation regarding the settlement value of your claim. Knowledge of the system is not enough to protect you though. You need an advocate to advise you of both the strengths and weaknesses of your case, so that together, you may join forces to protect your interests, and help secure your family’s future.
“I see my clients worry every day about their own security and the security of their families due to a work injury. One of my goals is to ease their anxiety by educating them about the benefits and limitations of the workers’ compensation system, so that they are prepared to deal with a life-changing injury.”
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