If you are hurt at work or develop an occupational disease, then you may be entitled to a number of benefits under the New Jersey Workers’ Compensation Law. These benefits may include medical care and treatment, temporary total benefits, and permanent partial or total benefits. In addition, if an employee dies as a result of a workplace injury or illness, their dependents may be entitled to death benefits.
Many workers’ compensation cases are handled without filing a claim with the Division of Workers’ Compensation. However, if there is a dispute over issues such as the payment of benefits, whether the injury or illness is compensable or the extent of medical treatment, then a worker may need to file a claim. These claims are resolved in one of two ways: through a workers’ comp settlement or at trial.
If you have suffered a work-related injury or illness, you may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. A seasoned New Jersey workers’ compensation lawyer can help you with the process, including negotiating a fair settlement that meets your needs.
What Is a Workers’ Compensation Settlement?
When there is a dispute between the employee and the employer and/or its insurance company over workers’ compensation benefits, the employee may file a claim with the Division of Workers’ Compensation. The majority of these claims are resolved via settlement, where both parties agree to an amount of money. In exchange for this payment, workers give up certain rights.
In New Jersey, there are two types of workers’ compensation settlements: Section 20 and Section 22. There are three main differences between these settlements: whether the claim is denied or disputed, what rights a worker must give up in the agreement, and how the payments are made.
Section 20 settlements are only available in cases where the insurance company denies a workers’ comp claim or disputes part of the claim. This type of settlement is full and final, which means that in exchange for a lump sum of money, the employee is giving up their right to all workers’ comp benefits for the claim. If you sign a Section 20 settlement, then you won’t be able to reopen your claim in the future, even if your condition worsens.
By contrast, a Section 22 settlement can be used in any type of workers’ compensation claim, including claims that are accepted by the insurer. This type of settlement does not require a worker to give up their right to future care or benefits. If you sign a Section 22 settlement agreement, you can seek future medical care and even reopen your claim if your condition gets worse. If you want to reopen the claim, you must do so within 2 years of the last payment due under the settlement.
With a Section 22 settlement, the disability benefits are paid in installments instead of a lump sum. These installment amounts are based on a permanent disability rating agreed to by both parties pursuant to the current disability benefit rate.
Both types of settlements can be made at any time in the workers’ compensation claim process. However, it is generally advisable to wait until you have reached maximum medical improvement (MMI), which is the point where your doctor believes that your condition is stable and will not improve with additional treatment. If you settle your claim before reaching MMI, then you may not get the full scope of treatment and benefits that you are entitled to under the law.
Importantly, no workers’ compensation settlement is final in New Jersey until the Division of Workers’ Compensation reviews it and determines that it is in the best interest of the injured worker. For both Section 20 and 22 settlements, you will be required to complete a number of forms that spell out the terms and conditions of your agreement. For Section 20 settlements, you must also attend a hearing, where a judge will make sure that you understand that you are giving up future rights as part of the agreement.
How Much Will I Get in a Workers’ Compensation Settlement?
The value of any New Jersey workers’ comp case varies significantly based on the type of injury involved and the severity of that injury. For example, if you broke your arm and are expected to recover within 12 weeks, your settlement will be lower than if your arm was amputated and you have a permanent disability.
Other factors that influence your settlement amount include:
- The need for ongoing medical care;
- If there is a question as to whether the injury or illness is work-related;
- Any disputes as to the medical treatment needed; and
- Pre-injury wages.
A seasoned New Jersey workers’ comp attorney can evaluate your case and help you decide how to proceed. From there, your lawyer will consult with experts, research the law, and negotiate the best possible settlement for your injury or illness.
Hurt at Work? We’re Here to Help.
Workplace accidents can lead to devastating injuries. If you have been hurt at work or if you have been diagnosed with an occupational disease, then you may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. A lawyer can help you get the treatment and money that you need to move forward with your life.
At Bross & Frankel, we represent clients in both New Jersey and Pennsylvania as they navigate the workers’ compensation system. We have the experience, skill, and knowledge necessary to get the maximum recovery for our clients. To learn more or to schedule a free claim review, contact us online or call us at 856-795-8880.