Overview of Workers’ Compensation Claims in New Jersey
Workers who are injured while acting within the scope of their employment are eligible to receive full payment for all of their medical costs, lost wage benefits and a disability award at the end of their case. New Jersey is a “no-fault” workers’ compensation state, meaning that even employees who contribute to their own injuries can still receive benefits under workers’ compensation.
Workers’ compensation functions as an insurance system. Its design is to allow workers to recover for injuries despite who is at fault for the injury. In return, a worker cannot file a civil lawsuit against the employer unless the employer intentionally injured an employee. If a worker is killed within the scope of his or her employment, the employee’s dependents can recover death benefits.
Workers who are injured on the job should immediately notify their employers about the injury. The employer, in turn, will file a First Report of Injury to its workers’ compensation insurance carrier. The carrier will ultimately determine whether the worker is covered under the insurance plan, or the employer will decide for itself if it is self-insured.
The type of workers’ compensation an employee is eligible for depends on the type and severity of the injury.
If injured at work, workers’ compensation covers all reasonable medical expenses related to the injury. This includes hospital expenses, medical treatment and prescription medications.
Temporary Total Disability Benefits
An injured worker who must miss work for more than seven days is eligible for temporary disability benefits. This benefit pays 70 percent of the workers’ average weekly pay. These benefits last until the worker is able to work again or has reached his or her maximum recovery.
Permanent Partial Disability Benefits
If the injury is permanent, but the worker can still perform some type of work after the injury the worker can receive partial disability payments for the “functional loss” the injury caused. These benefits are paid after the case is settled in workers’ compensation court.
Permanent Total Disability Benefits
If the injury or condition is so severe that the worker cannot perform any type of job, he or she is eligible for permanent total disability benefits. Total disability initially lasts 450 weeks. The worker will continue receiving these benefits if they are still totally disabled at this time.
A Workers’ Compensation Attorney Can Help
Proving eligibility for workers’ compensation can sometimes be difficult. A worker must show the injury arose from the course of his or her employment before obtaining workers’ compensation benefits. In addition, it is a very difficult standard for one to prove they are permanently disabled and unable to work again. If you have been injured at work, contact an experienced workers’ compensation attorney to discuss your legal options.