New Jersey’s workers’ compensation system provides important protections to workers who are injured while on the job, including offering them reimbursement for medical benefits, time off work, and lost wages.
Despite the fact that the benefits and services of workers’ compensation are widely relied upon by workers throughout the state, common misconceptions about workers’ compensation, and the benefits it provides, continue to exist and can cause fear and confusion among workers who are considering filing a claim.
If you are considering filing a workers’ compensation claim, here are 10 important facts that you should know.
1. Workers’ Compensation Covers Illness and Disease as Well as Accidents
While workers’ compensation protects you in the event of a severe work-related accident like a crash, it also provides compensation to employees who develop longer-term illnesses or diseases from work, including respiratory problems, repetitive stress injuries, or even cancer.
2. You Must Bring Your Claim Promptly
Workers’ compensation claims must be raised promptly if they are to be taken seriously. Under New Jersey law, claims must be brought within two years of when a worker knew, or should have known, about an accident or injury.
3. You Have the Burden of Proving Your Claim is Work-Related
Simply having an injury arise while you are employed is not enough to get workers’ compensation benefits. Instead, you must show that the injury you are experiencing was caused by your employment rather than an outside hobby or unrelated accident.
4. If Your Injury Occurred at Work It Doesn’t Matter Whose Fault It Is
Workers’ compensation covers work-related injuries regardless of whether they are the result of the employer’s errors or an employee’s accident. In either event, the worker can receive workers’ compensation until recovery is complete.
5. Proving Your Injury May Require a Hearing
If your employer disputes the severity of your injury or whether it is work-related you may have to participate in a workers’ compensation hearing in order to receive full benefits. This often requires the assistance of a workers’ compensation attorney.
6. You May Have to Tolerate an Independent Medical Examination
During the workers’ compensation process an employer does not necessarily have to go by your existing medical records. They are entitled to request an independent medical examination to determine if your injuries are as serious as you suggest.
7. If You Can Work in Some Capacity, You May Have to Go Back to Work
When you are being evaluated for workers’ compensation a physician will determine whether you are completely unable to work or if you could perform work in a limited capacity. If you could do light duty work and your employer has light duty options available, you may be required to return to work in that role if you want to get paid.
8. If You are Seriously Injured You May Be Entitled to Full Disability
By contrast, in some situations, when a worker’s injuries are very serious, such as blindness or a lost limb, a worker may be found to be totally disabled and will not have to return to work at all. Instead, you may be entitled to receive full disability as a result of your injuries.
9. Workers’ Compensation Wage Benefits are Not Immediate
While workers are entitled to wages if out of work due to a work-related injury, these payments do not come immediately. Instead, you must be out of work for seven days before the system will begin to pay you for the wages that you are not earning, so it is important to keep a bit aside to get you through that first week.
10. Workers’ Compensation Benefits Also Include Funeral Benefits
If you have a loved one who is killed as a result of a work-related accident, you may be entitled to receive up to $3,500 in compensation for funeral expenses from your loved one’s employer.
New Jersey Workers’ Compensation Lawyers in Hamilton Township
Seeking workers’ compensation can be a complicated endeavor, particularly if your employer anticipates contesting your claim. Before you lay all of your cards out on the table, you should speak with an experienced workers’ compensation attorney who can advise you on the process and the necessary steps that you need to take.
At Petro Cohen Petro Matarazzo, our knowledgeable and experienced attorneys will make sure you do not leave money on the table. Many of our clients are surprised to learn that workers’ compensation actually has three separate benefits:
Temporary Disability Benefits, which are tax-free weekly benefits representing 70% of your gross weekly wage, payable up to 400 weeks. These benefits are payable while you are temporarily unable to work because of a work-related medical condition and under active medical treatment.
Medical Treatment, which covers all reasonable and necessary medical charges to treat your work-related medical condition and are payable by the workers’ compensation insurance carrier. The carrier has the initial right to authorize specific physicians who are competent to treat your condition. If a problem arises concerning the medical treatment you require, you have the right to make an application to a Judge of Workers’ Compensation. With our assistance, we can work with you and the Judge for a determination as to what, if any, additional compensable medical treatment you require.
Permanent Partial Disability, an additional compensation which is payable to you, if after your completion of compensable medical treatment, you have a measurable loss of physical function proven by “demonstrable objective medical evidence.” This benefit can be payable to you even if you are able to return to work and have made an excellent recovery.
At Petro Cohen Petro Matarazzo, our hard working workers’ compensation attorneys know the ins and outs of the process and are available to help hard working people like you. In order to obtain the full benefits permitted by law you should be represented by a competent and experienced workers’ compensation settlement attorney.
For a free consultation to discuss your potential workers’ compensation claim and learn more about your options, contact us online or at (888) 675-7607.