When you get injured on the job, filing for workers’ compensation can be critical to ensuring that you are able to pay your bills during your recovery. But, it can also be very challenging. While your employer and its insurance company should help you collect the benefits to which you are entitled under New Jersey law, too often, companies put their own interests first. They create extra hurdles, they make it hard to find the information you need, they offer minimal (if any) benefits, and they take advantage of the fact that most workers know very little about how the process is supposed to work.
All of this means that, if you make mistakes during the process, there is a good chance that these mistakes are going to cost you. As a result, you need to avoid them if at all possible. What kind of mistakes are we talking about? Here are 10 examples of common mistakes injured workers in New Jersey need to avoid.
Mistake #1: Waiting to Tell Your Employer You Got Injured
If you are involved in an accident at work, you need to tell your employer promptly. Under New Jersey law, you have up to 90 days to report an injury with certain few exceptions. You do not need to file a written report, although your employer may ask you to do so. Your employer cannot take adverse action against you on the basis that you got injured and are seeking workers’ compensation benefits; if they do, you can take legal action for wrongful retaliation.
Mistake #2: Seeing the Wrong Doctor
In New Jersey, employers and their workers’ compensation insurers have the right to select the doctors who treat injured workers in most cases. If you go to the emergency room or see your normal doctor when you are not permitted to do so, then your medical expenses may not be covered.
Mistake #3: Assuming the Medical Advice You Receive Is Adequate
While you may need to see a doctor who has been pre-approved by your employer or its insurance company, you also need to be wary of relying solely on his or her medical advice. Unfortunately, this doctor may or may not fully have your best interests in mind. With the help of a skilled New Jersey workers’ compensation attorney, you may be able to compel treatment recommended by a physician of your choosing when the doctor who has been pre-approved by your employer or its insurance company has prematurely discharged you from care.
Mistake #4: Waiting Too Long to File Your Claim
Notifying your employer of your injury is not the same thing as filing a claim for workers’ compensation. Once you notify your employer, then you must separately file a written claim for permanent disability benefits to have a judge of compensation determine the amount of compensation that you are owed. You have two years from either the occurrence of a reported injury, or your last receipt of benefits (medical treatment and temporary total disability payments are “benefits” for workers’ compensation purposes), whichever is later, to file a claim with the Division of Compensation.
Mistake #5: Returning to Work Too Soon
One of the biggest mistakes you can make after getting injured on the job is returning to work too soon. Your employer cannot legally require you to resume your job duties until your doctor says you are ready, and if you return to work voluntarily, you could jeopardize your claim for benefits.
Mistake #6: Accepting the First Answer You Receive from Your Employer or Its Insurance Company
Whether you receive an award of benefits or your claim is denied, you should not simply accept the first answer you receive from your employer or its insurer. The chances are that you are legally entitled to a more favorable outcome.
Mistake #7: Accepting Any Settlement before You Have a Full Understanding of Your Injury’s Long-Term Effects
Regardless of how long your claim takes, you should not accept any settlement until you have a clear understanding of the full benefits you are entitled to recover. If you settle too soon, your claim will be over and you won’t be able to collect the full benefits you deserve.
Mistake #8: Only Seeking Workers’ Compensation Benefits
Depending on how you were injured and who was at fault, filing for workers’ compensation may not be your only source of financial recovery. If you have a personal injury claim, you can collect compensation in excess of the benefits available through workers’ compensation.
Mistake #9: Assuming That It Is Too Expensive to Hire an Attorney
Hiring a workers’ compensation attorney is not expensive. In fact, it doesn’t cost you anything out of pocket at all. Your attorney only gets paid if he or she helps you recover benefits. In New Jersey, attorneys’ fees are capped at 20% of your recovery, and this “contingency fee” is likely to be far less than the additional amount your attorney helps you recover.
Mistake #10: Trying to Handle Your Workers’ Compensation Claim on Your Own
With these mistakes in mind, if you have been injured on the job, it is strongly in your best interest to hire a lawyer to represent you. An experienced lawyer will be able to deal with your employer and their insurance company for you, accurately calculate your full benefits, and make sure you receive the treatment and compensation you deserve.
Speak with an Experienced Workers’ Compensation Lawyer about Your Claim for Free
If you are injured at work, you need a competent New Jersey workers’ compensation attorney by your side. Petro Cohen Petro Matarazzo has been consistently recognized as one of the state’s leading firms in the area of workers’ comp. The firm holds the highest “AV” rating by Martindale-Hubbell – the world’s foremost authority on law firm credentials – in Professional Excellence and Ethical Standards and Legal Ability, and has been recognized for the past ten years on the U.S. News & World Report and Best Lawyers® “Best Law Firms” list for workers’ compensation.
The workers’ comp attorneys at Petro Cohen Petro Matarazzo have a wealth of experience handling all types of cases, and will fight hard to make sure you get all of the benefits and compensation to which you may be entitled. With over 100 years combined experience, Frank Petro, Stephen M. Matarazzo, Suzanne Holz Meola, Terri Hiles, Steven Lubcher, and Daniel Rosenthal, have successfully handled thousands of litigated workers’ comp cases throughout the state of New Jersey.
For your convenience, Petro Cohen has four offices in southern New Jersey, including Northfield, Cherry Hill, Hamilton, and Cape May Court House, and offers free and confidential consultations. To discuss your case with one of our workers’ comp attorneys, give us a call at 888-675-7607 or request an appointment online today.