New Jersey Workers’ Compensation Lawyer
No one plans on getting injured or becoming ill, and when you’re hurt on the job, it can present a new set of financial challenges for you and your family, as well as uncertainty about the future.
To stay on top of your bills and maintain a healthy financial position, you’ll need help with medical expenses and a regular paycheck that covers your living costs.
New Jersey workers are protected by workers’ compensation, a program that provides medical care, disability benefits, and lost wages in the event an accident, injury or illness, even if you were at fault.
The team at Maggiano, DiGirolamo & Lizzi has a well-earned reputation of standing up for our clients’ rights and achieving the most favorable settlements for their cases. No case is too big or too small for our team. If you want the best workplace injury attorney, look no further than Maggiano, DiGirolamo & Lizzi, P.C.
Contact us for a no-cost consultation at (201) 890-4838.
What is Workers’ Comp?
Workers’ compensation is an insurance benefit provided by employers. It provides workers with medical treatment, wage replacement, and permanent disability compensation if an employee is injured while working or suffers from a job-related illness. The program also includes death benefits in the event that the person dies as a result of their job.
Employees are eligible to receive workers’ compensation even if the injury was their fault. This is because workers’ compensation is considered a “no-fault” program. However, there are exceptions to the no-fault policy, and a claim may be denied if the employee hurt themselves intentionally or had drugs or alcohol in their system at the time of the injury.
Though workers’ compensation is designed to protect workers and help them get back on their feet, both financially and physically, there are times when cases aren’t as straightforward or simple as they first appear. Having an experienced attorney on your side is helpful to ensure that all of your paperwork is filed on time, and you get the compensation and care you deserve.
How Workers’ Compensation Works in New Jersey
When it comes to workers’ compensation, New Jersey has some unique and specific guidelines. For example, in New Jersey, all employers must carry this insurance, regardless of the size of their organization. Other states only require it if they have a minimum number of employees.
Current labor law in New Jersey is heavily influenced by the struggles of workers during the first part of the 20th century. In 1911, the state 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.) to help employees recover medical bills and lost wages from workplace injuries.
The goal of this act is as follows:
- Ensure the fairness and timeliness of benefits. This policy is a vast improvement over employees having to take on Goliath employers who were notorious for waiting out claims and using their large legal teams to squash a case.
- Enforce legal requirements for employers. To protect employees from financial hardship due to being hurt on the job, all New Jersey employers must have workers’ compensation insurance coverage.
- Provide benefits for temporary and permanent disabilities, while also considering any pre-existing conditions. This situation can be somewhat of a gray area, and insurance companies may try to argue that the injury was entirely pre-existing, and not job-related at all. The team at Maggiano, DiGirolamo & Lizzi, P.C. is well-versed in these types of cases, and we aggressively advocate for our clients. Call us at 201-890-4838 for a no-cost consultation to learn more about your case now.
Previously, employees had to sue their employers if they were injured or ill from their jobs, a process that was incredibly costly and could go on for years.
Today, all New Jersey employees are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits, which include medical and disability benefits, as well as death benefits.
What Types of Benefits are Available?
Think of worker’s compensation benefits as a complete financial protection package to ensure that you don’t become bankrupt or lose your livelihood due to a workplace injury or illness. These benefits also protect your family in the event of your death.
It might not be immediately obvious that you have a right to a claim. People tend to view workers’ compensation as something that covers a fall or an injury from working with machinery. But this coverage spans a variety of issues, including overexertion, exposure to toxic substances, and even repetitive motion injuries like carpal tunnel syndrome.
Depending on your specific case and extent of your injury, there are a variety of benefits potentially available.
Any care associated with the injury or illness are to be paid, including:
– Ambulatory care
– Physical therapy
– Any other relevant treatment costs
These expenses are covered until the employee reaches “maximum medical improvement.” The only caveat is that the employee may not get to choose his or her doctor. Ultimately, the employer has the final say about the administering doctor or physician.
Temporary Total Disability Benefits
If your injury or illness prevents you from working for more than seven days, then you are eligible for temporary total disability benefits, also known as TTD benefits. This means that you are totally disabled, but only temporarily.
During this time, you will receive approximately 70% of your wage. However, this income is not subject to taxes, so you get to keep the entire amount.
Permanent Disability Benefits
If the injury or illness results in a permanent disability, then the employee is entitled to long-term benefits. The amount of payment depends on whether the disability is considered partial or total.
Partial disability means that the employee can still work, but may be hindered in some way. There are two categories of partial disability:
- Scheduled Loss – a person’s use of their fingers, hands, arms, toes, feet, legs, ears, eyes, or teeth is hindered.
- Non-scheduled Loss – a person has an injury that’s not included in scheduled loss. This could be a back injury or less than optimal heart or lung function.
Permanent disability means that the person cannot work at all. When this occurs, he or she is entitled to approximately 70% of their paycheck. This amount is calculated as an average of what they had been paid weekly. There are, however, minimums and maximums that are applied to this amount.
The length of permanent disability coverage is subject to a possible maximum of 450 weeks, or 8.65 years. After that time has passed, the person must prove that they are still unable to work to continue receiving benefits.
If a worker died on the job or suffered a fatal illness as a result of the workplace environment, then the surviving family members will receive death benefits. Eligible dependents include a spouse and children who were living with the deceased. In some cases, a dependent may prove they were reliant on the person’s care and are also eligible for benefits.
Funeral expenses up to $3,500 are also included in death benefits.
Who is Eligible?
Anyone in New Jersey employed by a company with operations in the state is eligible for workers’ compensation. This includes both full-time and part-time employees, regardless of the size of the company or the length of the employee’s tenure.
This means that you are protected by workers’ compensation from your very first day of employment.
One area that’s not as straightforward is Independent Contractors. Historically, independent contractors weren’t eligible for workers’ compensation coverage, but New Jersey law might still qualify you as an employee even if you’re classified as an independent contractor.
If you’re not sure where you fall in this continuum, contact the office of Maggiano, DiGirolamo & Lizzi, P.C. at 201-890-4383 and let our workplace injury attorneys help you determine eligibility.
How Does No-Fault Workers’ Compensation Work?
No-fault workers’ compensation means that you are eligible for benefits even if the injury was your fault. This is unique to other types of insurance that don’t require the insured party to pay you if you caused the accident. Car insurance is a classic example of at fault insurance.
Because of this distinction, you could make a sizable mistake and still receive full benefits. You’re not penalized for doing something wrong. The only exceptions are if you were found to be under the influence of an illicit substance or you were found to have purposefully injured yourself for the sake of collecting a claim.
With no-fault workers’ compensation, you are unable to sue your employer as all of the benefits are provided to you through the insurance coverage. However, like anything, there are exceptions. One notable exception is if you believe your employer intentionally harmed you or put you at risk. In cases like these, having a workplace injury attorney is crucial to help build your case.
What If A Workplace Injury Was the Result of Negligence?
Employers have certain protections under workers’ compensation laws, including protection from civil suits brought by injured workers. However, injured workers can file a lawsuit against someone other than the employer; many workplace injuries result in both a workers’ compensation claim and a personal injury case.
Third-party negligence contributing to a workplace injury varies depending on the workplace and the circumstances of the incident. All U.S. workers are entitled to safe work environment that is free from both unnecessary hazards and careless workers. The manufacturer of unsafe equipment, the driver of the car that struck you, the distributor of unsafe chemicals, the contractor at the construction site who failed to provide a safe work environment, or the vendor working at your place of employment who created a safety hazard are all examples of third-party individuals who can be found liable for your workplace injury.
Filing a personal injury case allows you to collect money for damages not covered by workers’ compensation programs. Workers’ compensation can provide for pre-approved medical expenses, disability, and roughly two-thirds of the employee’s average wages, but a third-party personal injury lawsuit allows you to collect damages for all lost wages, employer contributions to retirement plans, and anticipated future medical care.
What Should You Do If You Are Injured At Work?
1. Report the injury
If you are injured on the job or suffer an occupational illness, immediately report the injury to your employer. Notice should be given to the employer as soon as possible but not later than 90 days from the accident.
It is extremely important to notify your employer that you were injured AND that the injury was caused by your job; failure to report a work-related injury can lead the employer to deny the accident occurred or claim the accident happened outside of the workplace. In addition, make sure you know your employer’s internal deadlines for reporting workplace injuries, as failure to report an accident in the given time frame can result in consequences like suspension or a formal citation.
2. Seek medical attention
Severe workplace injuries typically receive immediate medical attention. However, if the injury comes on more slowly, is not noticed right away, or the extent of the injury is not clear immediately after the accident, make sure to seek medical treatment as soon as possible.
Seeking treatment from a board-certified physician will bolster your claim for medical expenses, and visiting a doctor in the state of New Jersey will make it easier for him or her to testify in the event medical testimony is necessary for your case. When seeking medical treatment, make sure the doctor knows you sustained the injury or illness at work.
The sooner you consult an experienced attorney, the better. You have the right to representation by a lawyer, who will collect all medical records and appropriate medical evaluations to present in the case of a hearing. An experienced workers’ compensation attorney knows the ins and outs of workers’ compensation and can help you fight for the compensation you deserve during a difficult time for you and your family.
Why You Need a Lawyer
A lawyer isn’t always a necessity, but we always recommend contacting someone to be certain that you are receiving the benefits you’re entitled to. There are deadlines involved in reporting an injury and making a claim. An attorney will guide you in this process and ensure that your rights are protected.
Remember, workers’ compensation attorneys are not paid an hourly fee. Instead, attorneys receive only a portion of your payout.