Workers’ Compensation Claims
Job-related injuries can leave you with expensive medical bills and unable to return to work. You may be eligible to receive workers’ compensation benefits for any permanent damage related to your injury. The law firm of Bross & Frankel has helped many injured workers obtain compensation for lost income, medical expenses, and related complications associated with workplace injuries or illnesses, and our workers’ comp lawyers can help you too.
Our dedicated workers’ compensation attorneys will provide you with prompt, personal attention and aggressively advocate on your behalf to get you the settlement or award you need to get back on your feet.
Who is eligible for Workers’ Compensation Benefits?
In the state of New Jersey, most employees are entitled to benefits under the Workers’ Compensation Law, including part-time employees, employees of small businesses, and employees of the State, such as police officers and teachers. Our experienced lawyers have represented employees in a wide variety of industries, including construction, manufacturing, health care, trucking, education, retail, and more.
Types of Work Injuries
When many people think about a work-related injury, they think about the obvious, traumatic events like falls, construction injuries, heavy equipment breaking down or malfunctioning, motor vehicle accidents, falling objects, and similar sudden events. However, disabilities like carpal tunnel syndrome, neck and back injuries that get worse over time, and other health problems that deteriorate over time from repetitive use, can also qualify for compensation.
Frequently, the combined effects of these injuries due to repetitive work activity can add up to a complete inability to work on a full-time basis. Additionally, psychological illness or mental health problems brought on by a stressful or hostile work environment may be eligible for compensation. These types of injuries are complex, and the factors that must be met (proving that stressful work conditions, unique to your workplace were the cause of the disability), can be challenging.
If you think you may have suffered from occupational stress, or a repetitive use injury, contact our experienced attorneys to receive legal advice on your workers’ compensation case with a free evaluation.
Types of Workers Comp Benefits
When many people think about a work-related injury, they picture a traumatic accident like a fall, motor vehicle collision, or an equipment malfunction. But many workplace injuries and illnesses that qualify for workers’ compensation benefits are not sudden events. We’ve helped employees receive compensation for a wide variety of injury claims, including:
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
- Herniated or bulging discs
- Burn injuries
- Chemical exposure
- Neck and back injuries
- Head trauma/brain injuries
- Vision/hearing loss
- Broken bones
- Amputation injuries
- Repetitive use injuries
- Nerve, muscle, or tissue damage
- Mental health problems
If you think you may have suffered from any of these work-related issues, including occupational stress or repetitive use injury, our workman’s comp injury lawyers can help you with your workers’ comp claim.
Lost Wages / Temporary Total Disability
If you have been unable to work for more than seven days as a result of your work-related injury, you may also be entitled to “temporary total disability” benefits, which are designed to compensate you for any wages you have lost while you recover from your injury.
These benefits would continue until you are released to work by the doctor or when the doctor finds you have reached “maximum medical improvement,” meaning additional treatment will not cure or further improve your injury or disease. If your injury is permanent, you may be eligible for an additional award on that basis.
NJ Workers’ Compensation Benefits
Your employer may not readily volunteer what benefits you are eligible for, so it is important to get your case evaluated by a skilled workers’ compensation lawyer to make sure you are receiving everything you are entitled to after a workplace accident. New Jersey workers’ compensation benefits include:
You may be entitled to coverage for any medical treatment related to your injury that is reasonable, proper, and necessary. This includes doctor’s appointments, surgery, physical therapy, and evaluations for your work-related injury.
Lost Wages/Temporary Total Disability
Temporary total disability benefits are designed to compensate you for any wages you have lost while you recover from your injury. If you have been unable to work for more than seven days as a result of your workplace injury, you may be entitled to temporary total disability benefits.
Permanent Partial Disability
You may be eligible to receive permanent partial disability compensation if your injury is permanent but you are able to return to work. These benefits would begin when the doctor finds you have reached “maximum medical improvement.”
A doctor will then provide an evaluation of your impairment and provide a “permanent disability rating.” Disability compensation is based on a percentage of either a “scheduled” or a “non-scheduled” loss.
A scheduled loss means that the injury affects your eyes, ears, arms, hands, legs, or feet. In these cases, a schedule maintained by the State of New Jersey is consulted to determine the appropriate amount of compensation.
A Non-scheduled loss is an injury impacting any other area of the body, such as low back or neck injuries, or internal organs.
Permanent Total Disability
If a work-related injury or illness renders you permanently disabled and unable to return to any kind of gainful employment, you may be eligible for permanent disability benefits. These compensation rates are limited by a maximum and minimum amount maintained by the State.
If you become totally disabled based on a combination of your workplace injury and pre-existing conditions that are not work-related, you may still qualify for benefits. In these types of workers comp cases, the employer would be responsible only for the work-related portion of the award, and the State’s Second Injury Fund would pay the portion not related to the individual’s work injury.
In New Jersey workers’ compensation claims, insurance companies can make an advance monetary offer, called a “voluntary tender,” against any final award of permanent disability benefits. However, if you receive a voluntary tender, it is still important to consult with an experienced workers’ compensation attorney to determine whether you are receiving the full benefits you deserve.
Do You Need a Workers Comp Lawyer?
After you have an accident at work or are diagnosed with a work-related illness, your employer may tell you not to worry — that you are covered by workers’ comp insurance. That may be true. But too often, employers and their insurance companies deny, delay, or minimize legitimate workers’ compensation claims.
Common tactics used by employers and insurance companies include:
- Denying an initial workers’ comp claim because the employee didn’t seek medical treatment in a timely manner;
- Denying a claim on the basis that the injury was suffered outside of work;
- Discontinuing medical benefits because the proposed medical treatment is unnecessary or unreasonable;
- Discontinuing medical benefits because it has exceeded a reasonable duration;
- Improperly classifying a disability;
- Calculating a worker’s average weekly wage incorrectly; and/or
- Terminating an employee’s position because of a work injury or illness.
These are just some of the issues that may arise in a New Jersey workers’ comp case — any of which may result in your benefits being terminated early, paid at an unfair rate, or denied entirely.
A seasoned New Jersey workers’ compensation attorney will work to ensure that you get the benefits that you are entitled to under the law. Your lawyer can help make sure that all required documentation is filed on time and properly and that your medical treatment is authorized. In addition, your attorney will help you with an independent medical exam (IME), if requested, and will represent you at all hearings and appeals before the Department of Labor.
While it is possible to handle a workers’ compensation claim on your own, working with an attorney increases the likelihood that you will get the full amount of benefits that you deserve. Having legal representation levels the playing field — and protects your interests throughout the process.
What Should I Do If My Employer Isn’t Reporting My Workers’ Comp Claim?
Under New Jersey law, all employers are required to either carry workers’ compensation insurance or be self-insured (if approved by the state). When an employer learns about a workplace injury or diagnosis of an occupational disease, it should notify its insurance carrier immediately. The insurance company is then required to file a First Report of Injury with the Division of Workers’ Compensation within three weeks.
If your employer does not report your injury or illness to its workers’ compensation insurance carrier, then you have two options. First, you can contact the insurance carrier. You can find out who the insurance company is by looking for proof of insurance coverage posted in your workplace, or by visiting the Compensation Rating & Inspection Bureau’s website.
Second, you can file a claim directly with the Division of Workers’ Compensation. If you decide to go this route, you should reach out to a New Jersey workers’ compensation attorney for assistance.
Can My Employer Punish Me for Filing a Workers’ Compensation Claim?
In New Jersey, workers’ compensation retaliation is illegal. However, this law only prohibits employers from firing employees who file a claim or who testify in a workers’ comp hearing. It is not against the law for your employer to penalize you in other ways, such as demoting you or changing your work hours or location.
If you are fired based on your participation in a workers’ compensation claim, then you may be able to file a discrimination complaint. Through this type of complaint, you could receive compensation for lost wages and potentially be restored to your former position, if you are still able to perform the essential functions of the job.
There may be situations where an employer discriminates against you or treats you poorly after a workplace injury or occupational disease diagnosis because of your disability. Employment discrimination based on disability is illegal under both federal and state law. A New Jersey employment lawyer can evaluate your case and help you make a decision about how to proceed.
Can I File a Lawsuit for a Workplace Injury or Illness?
Workers’ compensation is considered an exclusive remedy. This means that — with limited exceptions — it is the only way to recover compensations from your employer for a work-related injury or illness. However, if a third party caused or contributed to your injury, then you may still be able to file a lawsuit against them.
This can happen in a number of ways. For example, if you are making deliveries for your employer when a drunk driver slams into the company car, then you can file a workers’ comp claim for your injuries. You may also be able to file a personal injury lawsuit against the other driver.
Importantly, if you recover money from a third party for a work-related injury, then it may reduce the amount of workers’ compensation benefits that you receive. An insurance company and/or the employer are entitled to a credit for any settlement or recovery that you receive from a third party. The amount of the credits is based on the value of your benefits and the settlement.
Hurt at Work? Reach Out Today.
If you have suffered a workplace injury or been diagnosed with an occupational disease, you may be feeling overwhelmed with paperwork and the stress of the situation. We can help. Our team of experienced legal professionals will work with you, standing with you from the initial filing through the final resolution of your claim.
For more than 20 years, Bross & Frankel has represented injured workers throughout New Jersey with their workers’ compensation claims. We offer free claim reviews so that you can learn more about your legal rights and options. To learn more or to schedule a consultation with a New Jersey workers’ compensation attorney, call us at 856-795-8880 or reach out online.