Frequently Asked Questions about New Jersey Workers Compensation
Workers compensation laws in New Jersey can be confusing, especially if you have never had to file a work injury claim before now. Our law firm has handled hundreds of claims for workers comp benefits in and around Middlesex, Union County and Woodbridge Township. As a result of this experience, we have seen how even one simple mistake during the application or appeal process can put your right to benefits in jeopardy. A workers comp lawyer from Spevack Law Firm can fully explain the application process and prevent errors to avoid a denial.
Below, our attorneys provide answers to common questions about what to do after a workplace injury. For additional information, call (732) 636-3030 or contact us online for a free consultation.
Frequently Asked Questions about NJ Workers Compensation Law
- What is workers compensation?
- What injuries does workers compensation cover?
- When can I file a workers comp claim?
- What if I am at fault for my work injury?
- How much can I receive in workers compensation benefits?
- Does workers comp cover traveling to work?
- What if my workers comp claim is denied?
- Can I go to my own doctor for medical treatment?
- Can I file a personal injury lawsuit for my work injury?
- Where can I find a New Jersey workers comp lawyer near me?
Workers compensation is a type of insurance that New Jersey law requires most employers to carry. When a worker is injured while doing his or her job, the company is responsible for helping that employee recover. If you sustain an injury at work, then the workers comp policy held by your employer should pay for your medical bills and provide you with other benefits.
Benefits under workers comp include any and all treatments associated with an injury you sustained or condition you developed as a result of your work. You may also be reimbursed for a portion of the lost wages for the time you were unable to work while recovering. Suffering an injury at work can be catastrophic to your physical health and financial state. However, workers compensation can help you make ends meet while you heal.
Workers compensation covers most injuries that occur on the job. A workers comp case does not have to only involve a single accident in which an employee was hurt. Some cases may involve occupational diseases or ergonomic/repetitive motion injuries that were acquired due to the work environment or an extended period of strain. If there is a connection between your illness/condition and your work, then New Jersey workers compensation laws may cover you.
It is best to report a workplace injury to your employer quickly so your workers comp case can begin. Workers comp covers any injury or condition that results during the course of your employment. However, the definition of what counts as “the course of your employment” can be tricky to pin down. Generally, your work day begins as soon as you step onto your employer’s property in the morning. This means that even injuries from a slip in the parking lot or the lobby should qualify for workers comp.
There are some situations where you may be eligible for workers comp even if you are not on the clock. For example, your employer may ask you to run an errand on your lunch break. If, during that time, you are in a car accident, then your injuries may be covered by workers comp. As long as you are doing something that is beneficial to your employer and in the scope of your job duties, even while off the clock, you may be able to file a workers comp claim.
Workers compensation is a “no fault” system. This means it does not matter who caused the accident or unsafe conditions on the job. Even if your injury is the result of a mistake you made, you will still receive the same compensation as you would if you were not at fault. However, there are some exceptions to this no fault rule. Workers in New Jersey may not be eligible to receive benefits if their claim involves:
- Intentional self-injury
- Injuries sustained from starting a fight
- Non-work related injury
- Injuries that are the result of violating company policy, such as coming to work intoxicated
Your employer and its insurance carrier may deny your workers compensation benefits for these types of injuries. However, sometimes employers may falsely categorize an injury or illness as one that does not qualify. If this happens to you, then speak with our workers comp lawyer for help fighting for your rightful benefits.
Workers compensation should cover all necessary medical treatment for an injury you sustain at work. If your injury or condition keeps you from work for seven or more days, then you may receive some compensation for lost wages. You can get up to 70 percent of your average weekly paycheck under workers comp. However, this depends on the severity and limitations of your injury. These benefits will end once a doctor pronounces you fit to work.
Additionally, you may be entitled to permanent partial benefits if you develop a chronic condition due to your injury or job. The amount of these benefits depends on your condition and ability to work. Common occupational diseases include respiratory disease, mesothelioma and cancer caused by exposure to dangerous substances.
If your injury or condition prevents you from ever returning to work, workers compensation will provide permanent total benefits. You will get 70 percent of your average wage for up to 450 weeks. After that time, you will be required to prove that you are still unable to work for the benefits to continue.
One notable exception to a New Jersey workers compensation laws is your trip to and from work. This is called the “going and coming” rule. It states that workers compensation does not cover any injury you sustain on the way to or from work.
However, there are some exceptions. If you are driving a company car or if travel is a big part of your job (like a traveling salesperson), then workers comp may apply even to injuries sustained during your trip to work. Your employer’s workers comp insurance may also cover the entirety of any business trip.
If your claim for benefits is denied, then you have two years from the time of your injury to file a formal claim petition to challenge the decision under New Jersey workers compensation law. Within six months, you will be able to present your case at an informal hearing with a Judge of Compensation or formal claim with the New Jersey Division of Workers’ Compensation.
However, if you receive a denial of benefits, then you should contact a workers comp lawyer as soon as possible. An attorney can ensure that your denial did not result from an application error, and can represent your interests at your hearing.
In New Jersey, it is your employer’s right to choose which doctor you see for treatment of a work injury. If your own doctor discovers you developed a health condition as a result of your work, or is of the opinion that you have a work injury, then you will probably be required to see your employer’s approved doctor for a second opinion.
Doctors working for your employer’s insurance company may try to downplay your condition or suggest minimal treatment. If you believe that you have been misdiagnosed or have not been given the treatment you need, then an experienced New Jersey workers comp lawyer at our law firm can guide you in the next steps you can take to make sure you get the medical care you need.
Since New Jersey workers compensation is a no fault system, you typically cannot sue your employer for a workplace injury. There are some exceptions, though. If your employers acted recklessly or intentionally caused your injury or illness, then you may be able to bring a personal injury lawsuit against them.
You may be able to pursue compensation from other parties besides your employer in addition to your workers compensation benefits. For example, you may become ill from exposure to a toxic chemical in your workplace. If so, then you may be able to file a civil suit against the negligent chemical manufacturer. It is best to consult a workers comp lawyer to learn all your legal options after a work injury.
If you are looking for a knowledgeable and experienced workers comp lawyer, then the Spevack Law Firm can help you. We have three office locations in Iselin, New Brunswick and Teaneck. Thus, we are always close by when workers in Middlesex County, Union County and across New Jersey need us.
There is no financial risk in having our attorneys handle your case. We do not take fees for our workers comp services unless we are successful in gaining benefits on your behalf. Learn how we may be able to help by contacting our law firm today.