Frequently Asked Questions about New Jersey Workers’ Compensation
When it comes to essential life skills that we don’t get taught in school, you can add how to handle a workers’ compensation claim to the list. If you’ve been injured on the job or fallen victim to a work-related illness, you’re bound to have questions about your rights and how you’ll be compensated.
This guide is designed to answer all of the most commonly asked questions about workers’ compensation in New Jersey. Alternatively, call us now at 201-890-4383 for a no-cost consultation with one of our workplace injury attorneys’.
When do I report a workplace injury?
The sooner you can report an injury, the better. Immediately notify your employer of your injury. This is especially critical if you need to seek medical treatment. You may not immediately know that you’re injured. In this case, it’s best to notify your employer within 14 days of any incident.
Because workers’ compensation is no-fault, there’s no reason to wait. You don’t have to worry about gathering evidence of building a case. Simply report what happened to your employer and get treatment as soon as possible.
How should I inform my employer if I’m injured?
The first person you should inform is your direct supervisor or anyone in an authoritative position, including Human Resources. The notification can be verbal; it doesn’t have to be in writing. Your employer may give you forms to fill out where you will share the details of what happened.
If your employer is unwilling to file a claim on your behalf, then you can go directly to the Division of Workers’ Compensation and file a claim yourself.
How much time do I have to file a workers’ comp claim?
There is a two-year maximum that applies to workers’ compensation claims. The timer starts ticking at the moment of the injury or illness or the date of the last compensation payment, whichever is more recent.
If the claim pertains to a long-term illness or condition, then the report must be filed within two years of the employee becoming aware that their condition was related to their employment. For example, if you have hearing loss due to prolonged exposure to loud noise at the workplace, then you have two years from the date you became aware that your hearing was deteriorating from your workplace conditions.
What’s a First Report of Injury or Illness form?
This is an incident report that your employer must file within seven days of a death, illness, or serious injury. It provides an objective report of the incident as well as information about the workplace conditions that could have contributed to the claim. There are also fields to include witness information for further investigation.
What benefits are available under workers’ comp?
The following benefits are available under workers’ comp:
- Medical – All treatments, procedures, and office visits
- Lost wages – Workers’ comp will still provide you with your regular pay
- Disability – Temporary or permanent payments to make up for lost wages
- Death benefits – Benefits paid to the survivor’s dependents, including a stipend for funeral expenses
Contact the law office of Maggiano, DiGirolamo & Lizzi, P.C. at 201-890-4383 and let our workplace injury attorney’s help you determine your maximum benefit.
What laws govern workers’ compensation?
The state’s Department of Labor and Workforce Development created the New Jersey Division of workers’ compensation and the New Jersey Workers’ Compensation Act (N.J.S.A. 34:15-1 et seq.).
Under this law, all employers in New Jersey must provide workers’ compensation benefits to employees, regardless of the size of the organization, the employment status of the individual (whether full-time or part-time), and the length of their tenure.
Can I get workers’ comp if my job makes me sick?
Yes, if you become ill due to your workplace environment or duties, then you are eligible for workers’ compensation benefits.
What if my workplace injury was my fault?
New Jersey is a no-fault state, and workers’ compensation is available, even if the injury was your fault.
Can I file a new claim if I already had a medical condition and an accident makes it worse?
Yes. However, you or your attorney will need to prove that the worsening of your condition was due specifically to your workplace or duties. For example, if you have a history of back problems and hurt your back at work, your employer might try to argue that your injury was pre-existing and had nothing to do with your job.
You will need to be able to show that your injury became worse or reappeared because of your workplace.
What does Workers’ Comp pay if I die on the job?
Yes. New Jersey law entitles your surviving family members to death benefits if you die on the job. Traditionally, the benefits are limited to a surviving spouse who was part of the household and minors under 18 who also lived with the deceased. The age limit would rise to 23 if the offspring was a full-time student living at home.
Other family members may also qualify, including parents, grandchildren, and adult children if it can be shown that they were dependent on the deceased for financial support.
The amount of benefits one can expect in New Jersey is equal to 70% of the person’s average weekly wage, subject to a maximum amount. As of 2017, the maximum was $921, and this amount is distributed among the dependents.
In addition to the weekly payment, the family will also receive up to $3,500 for burial expenses.
Can I go to my own doctor for treatment for my work injury?
In New Jersey, there is a pre-determined medical management care provider that oversees all workers’ compensation injuries. Therefore, you must go to their doctor, not your own.
What can I do if I need to see a doctor for my work injury, but my employer won’t approve my claim?
The first thing to do is to find out why your employer won’t approve your claim. Are you an independent contractor, and not an employee? Is the employer claiming that the injury isn’t work-related or that you were intoxicated when the incident occurred?
Regardless of the reason, you still need medical treatment. In this case, we recommend consulting with a workers’ comp attorney to figure out what to do next. You are entitled to see a doctor, and you should not deprive yourself of medical treatment, but having legal protection may be necessary to ensure coverage.
How long do I have to wait to start getting workers’ comp benefits?
Once your claim is approved, you should start getting compensation checks within 14 days. This is a general guideline, however, and your case may be unique.
What if I’m permanently disabled from my work injury?
If you are permanently disabled, then you are entitled to compensation for lost wages. The percentage of salary you can expect to receive is 70% of your average pay, and this money is not subject to income taxes. These benefits will continue uninterrupted for 450 weeks. After that, you must prove that you are still unable to work to continue receiving benefits.
How much does workers’ comp pay for my lost wages?
Workers’ comp pays 70% of your average weekly wages (AWW) with a maximum and minimum amount. These amounts change annually, and, as of 2019, the weekly maximum was $921 in New Jersey.
How is my average weekly wage (AWW) determined for my workers’ compensation payments?
This number is calculated by adding up the injured worker’s total earnings for the year prior to the injury and then dividing that number by 52.
If I’m permanently disabled, can I just get a lump sum instead of weekly payments?
Typically, payments are issued on a continual weekly bases, but there may be instances when receiving a lump-sum is an option. This circumstance usually occurs when the insurance company is asking you to forfeit the ability to seek further reimbursement. Before accepting the terms of a lump-sum, speak to our team of New Jersey workers’ compensation lawyers.
Can I sue my employer instead of going through workers’ comp?
No, the workers’ compensation laws protect employers from employee lawsuits. Consider it a trade-off for the “no-fault” policy. However, your rights are still fully protected, and any claims filed are subject to reimbursement through workers’ compensation.
There may be cases when a claim is denied, which may require a lawsuit. Again, a workers’ compensation attorney can help. Contact the office of Maggiano, DiGirolamo & Lizzi, P.C. at 201-890-4383 for a no-cost consultation with an attorney.
What can I do if my employer doesn’t have workers’ compensation insurance?
New Jersey law requires all public employers to have workers’ compensation insurance. To receive compensation when an employer violates this law, you may need to sue the employer directly to recover your expenses.
What do I do if my employer and/or their insurance company denies my claim?
There could be several reasons why your claim is denied, including:
- The injury had no witnesses
- You failed to report your injury on time
- Your accident report and medical records are inconsistent
- Your records indicate you had drugs or alcohol in your system
- You filed the claim after being fired or laid-off
- You did not cooperate with the insurance company or sign proper authorizations
These are the most common reasons a claim is denied, but there could be others that are unique to your case. A workers’ comp attorney can identify the cause and fight on your behalf for fair compensation.
Being sick or injured is tough enough without having to worry about your employer not providing you with proper compensation so that you can resume your normal life.
Having a skilled and experienced advocate is critical if there are any hiccups in your claim. Not only that, but New Jersey workers’ compensation lawyers can also ensure that you get the maximum benefits. Get in touch today at 201-890-4383 for a free consultation.