New Jersey requires employers to have workers’ compensation coverage in case of workplace injuries. This insurance provides compensation for medical expenses and lost wages related to your recovery.
However, the level of benefits you are eligible for can depend on various factors and involves receiving treatment from an approved physician. It is possible that you will receive fewer benefits than you believe you deserve, or an outright claim denial.
An Englewood workers’ compensation lawyer at Maggiano, DiGirolamo & Lizzi P.C. can evaluate your case, help you review your options, and fight to protect your rights.
New Jersey Workers’ Compensation Laws
Effective July 4, 1911, New Jersey became one of the first states to enact a comprehensive workers’ compensation law, requiring most employers to have coverage for workplace injuries. Workers’ comp is a “no fault” system, which means an employee will receive compensation for lost wages and medical expenses regardless of who was responsible for the injury.
That is, unless the injury was self-inflicted or the result of the injured worker’s intoxication, willful negligence, or failure to use protective equipment, according to NJ Rev Stat § 34:15-7. The tradeoff is that the employee cannot take their case to court.
I am delighted to provide this testimonial for Mr. DiGirolamo. His representation of me during my case was unflagging over its four-year duration. He kept me informed, and prepared for every eventuality as the case progressed.
He understood my fears and pain, and saw to it that Workmans Comp provided support for me until my civil case was settled. He prepared me substantially whenever necessary. I was very grateful for his understanding of the disastrous effect my accident had on every aspect of my life.
He was always supportive and kind personally, and totally professional. He reminded me to be realistic about the eventual outcome, and advised me as to the importance of my demeanor and attitude.
Everyone I came in contact with at the office was polite and helpful, in particular Marisol Suarez, Mr. DiGirolamo’s paralegal assistant. I will always be grateful for the way my case was handled.
We hired Chris DiGirolamo as our attorney after Mike suffered a life changing injury at work. From the time we met Chris we felt we can trust him to work in the best interest for Mike’s needs. Chris is very down to earth and we felt comfortable whenever we met with him. He spoke to us so we always understood what was going on. He never threw around legal jargon that we would not be able to understand. He was always willing to ensure we knew exactly how our case was proceeding. Chris showed humanity in dealing with Mike’s Injuries and understanding of Mike’s unwillingness to accept some of the changes in his life.
Chris’s high level of energy and desire to bring a case to the best possible results were evident from day one. Our case was settled but of court with the help of a mediator and Chris was by our side explaining what was going on every step of the way. His preparation throughout the case was evident as he spoke before the mediator. It was a pleasure to watch. Chris at work and know he was working for us. He is tough and stubborn when necessary. We were also impressed by the respect shown to Chris by the retired judge we worked with as well as other lawyers. Chris was only happy with this case when he knew we had a settlement that we were very impressed with.
Workers’ Comp Benefits
New Jersey provides five kinds of workers’ compensation benefits, as detailed by the state’s Department of Labor and Workforce Development (LWD). First and foremost, workers’ comp covers medical expenses, prescription costs, and the costs of ongoing treatments.
To receive any benefits, injured workers must receive medical attention. New Jersey law allows employers to designate an authorized treating physician for workplace injuries. If that physician refuses the claim—or in the case of an emergency—the worker may choose a different treating physician, though they should notify the employer as soon as possible.
In addition to providing benefits for the cost of your treatment, workers’ compensation may also provide coverage for temporary or permanent disability.
Temporary Disability Benefits
Temporary Disability Benefits (TDB) replace lost wages while you are out of work and receiving medical care. After missing seven days, you become eligible for 70% of your average weekly wage. This can be up to 70% of the statewide average weekly wage (SAWW), but never less than 20% of SAWW.
TDB ends when the worker is cleared to return to the job or reaches maximum medical improvement (MMI), meaning additional treatments will no longer improve their condition. If the worker is still partially or totally disabled, they may be eligible for permanent partial or total benefits.
Permanent Partial or Total Benefits
Payment of permanent partial benefits (PPB) may begin after TBD ends if you receive a partial disability rating from the doctor. The amount of benefits you receive will depend on the type and level of disability you experience.
If you are unable to return to gainful employment, you may be eligible for permanent total benefits (PTB), which pay out the same rates as TDB. PTB initially runs for 450 weeks. After that, you must show you are still unable to work to continue receiving benefits.
These benefits—70% of an average weekly wage, up to 75% of SAWW—may go to the household dependents of a worker who passed away on the job for up to 450 weeks.
Workers’ Compensation Claims
As soon as you become injured on the job, you should report the injury to your employer. In turn, your employer must notify their insurer in order to file a First Report of Injury with the state, according to the LWD. From there, the insurer evaluates the claim, assessing if the claim is valid.
If there is a dispute, the parties have two options: file a formal claim petition or an application for an informal hearing. Keep in mind that New Jersey requires you to file a formal claim petition within two years, even if you engage in the informal hearing process.
If you have questions about which path is right for your workers’ compensation claim, contact an Englewood workers’ compensation lawyer with Maggiano, DiGirolamo & Lizzi P.C. today. Our firm can review your case and advise you on your next steps. Call (201) 585-9111 to learn more.
Formal vs. Informal Claims
Informal hearings can sometimes offer a quick solution to simpler disputes. A judge will make suggestions during these hearings, but they are not binding on either party, and you do not give up your right to a formal claim.
Formal claims take longer, as they typically deal with the extent of disability and the number of medical treatments necessary. Often, these cases get resolved before trial. If not, trials will involve testimony from medical experts, witnesses, and injured workers. Rulings in the formal claims process are binding, and you can only appeal to the Appellate Division of the Superior Court.
If your employer does not have workers’ compensation insurance as required, the state has an Uninsured Employer’s Fund (UEF) to provide temporary benefits and medical expenses, according to the LWD. To access the UEF, you must file a formal claim. Once the state determines that the employer lacks workers’ compensation coverage, the employer will suffer penalties, and a judge can award your benefits.
Verdicts and Settlements
To a 35 year old iron worker who fell from a steel frame building under construction due to the failure of the general contractor to provide a safe workplace which included supervision for the use of safety equipment and guide wires.
Settlement was obtained for a 34 year old schoolteacher who claimed work related injury to her neck, back, shoulders, knees and head suffered during two separate work related accidents.
Settlement in the case of a 62 year old electrician’s helper who died after falling from loose planking at a height of 22 feet in a boiler room at an apartment complex.
How an Englewood Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Can Help
New Jersey was among the first states to enact a comprehensive workers’ compensation law. The system was designed to aid laborers while balancing the needs of industry—not always an easy line to toe. Sometimes, your employer’s insurer might not look out for your interests. Other times, your employer might try to discriminate against you after you have made a workers’ claim, even though that is illegal.
If you are looking for assistance with your workers’ compensation claim, Maggiano, DiGirolamo & Lizzi P.C. can be an advocate in your corner. Reach out and tell us about your case today. The sooner you call our offices at (201) 585-9111, the sooner we can start working for you.