In New Jersey, workers’ compensation benefits are available to injured workers on a “no-fault” basis. This means that an employer is required to pay regardless of fault – even if the employee is fully or partially to blame for his or her own injuries – with only limited exceptions for things like horseplay and drug or alcohol impairment.
Workers’ compensation covers most job-related injuries, and most companies in New Jersey are required to provide workers’ compensation coverage for their employees. So, if you have been injured on the job, there is a good chance that you are entitled to benefits. But, what if you accidentally hurt yourself at work? What if you made a mistake that caused or contributed to your injury? Can you still file a claim for workers’ compensation? Here’s what you need to know.
1. New Jersey has a “No-Fault” Workers’ Compensation System
Similar to other states, New Jersey has a “no-fault” workers’ compensation system. However, this does not mean that employees need to prove “no-fault” in order to file a claim for benefits. Rather, what it means is that proof of employer fault is not required in order for an injured worker’s employer to have to pay benefits. As long as you take the necessary steps to file your claim appropriately, you should be able to recover benefits regardless of who is to blame for your injury (subject to only very limited exceptions, as discussed below).
2. All Types of Accidents Happen All the Time
The second thing it is important for you to know is that on-the-job accidents happen all the time. Each year, thousands and thousands of New Jersey residents file claims for workers’ compensation benefits. In many of these cases, the employee seeking benefits has likely played a role in causing his or her own injuries. For example, the following are examples of job-related accidents that will generally be covered by workers’ compensation:
- Tripping and falling on the stairs or a carpeted floor
- Slipping and falling on a tile or wood floor
- Getting injured while lifting or moving heavy objects
- Getting injured in a vehicle collision
- Suffering an injury while working with tools, equipment, or heavy machinery
3. Certain Types of Accidents Are Not Covered
As we mentioned above, there are a few exceptions to the general rule that injured employees can file for workers’ compensation benefits regardless of fault. For example, if any of the following are relevant to your case, then you might not be eligible to recover medical and disability benefits:
- Horseplay – If you were engaged in horseplay, goofing off, or otherwise being reckless or dangerous and not focusing on the task at hand, then your employer might have reason to deny your claim for benefits.
- Alcohol or Drug Impairment – Similarly, if you hurt yourself because you were working (or attempting to work) under the influence of alcohol or drugs, your accident might not be covered.
- Beyond the Scope of Employment – While you do not need to be engaged in your specific job duties at the time of your accident in order to be eligible for benefits (e.g., if you fell while walking to the bathroom, your accident would still be covered), if you were not acting “within the scope of your employment,” then you would not be covered by workers’ compensation.
4. Playing a Role in the Accident Might Affect Your Claim for Personal Injury Damages
In some cases, injured employees will be able to file a claim for workers’ compensation and a claim for personal injury damages. But, unlike workers’ compensation claims, personal injury claims require proof of fault. So, if you did truly cause your injury at work, you may not be entitled to personal injury compensation.
However, since personal injury claims provide access to financial compensation above and beyond that available through workers’ compensation – and since personal injury claims are highly complicated – we recommend that you speak with an experienced personal injury attorney about filing a claim regardless of the circumstances involved in your accident. It may be that you are blaming yourself for something that was actually beyond your control. And even if you were partially at fault, you may still be able to file a claim for partial compensation.
Speak with a New Jersey Work Injury Lawyer in Confidence
Do you have questions about your legal rights after a job-related accident? Has your employer denied your claim for workers’ compensation benefits?
At Petro Cohen, our workers’ compensation and personal injury attorneys have over 200 years of combined experience assisting people who have been seriously injured.
Petro Cohen has been consistently recognized as one of New Jersey’s leading firms in the area of workers’ compensation. Since 2011, the firm has been named among Best Law Firms in America® in Atlantic City for Workers’ Compensation. Frank Petro has received the highest rating (AV) from Martindale-Hubbell, the world’s foremost authority on law firm credentials. Since 1995, Frank Petro has been named every year on the Best Lawyers in America® list for Workers’ Compensation. Additionally, Frank Petro has been named to the NJ Super Lawyers® list since 2005 in the practice area of workers’ compensation. He is also certified by the New Jersey Supreme Court as a Workers’ Compensation Law Attorney, the highest specialty certification available to workers’ compensation attorneys in New Jersey, and has held this certification since its inception in 1998.
Along with Stephen M. Matarazzo, Suzanne Holz Meola, Terri Hiles, Steven Lubcher, and Daniel Rosenthal, our New Jersey workers’ comp attorneys have successfully handled thousands of litigated workers’ comp cases throughout New Jersey. This experience and winning track record means that you are going to have a skilled New Jersey work injury lawyer who will work hard for you.
The Personal Injury Team at Petro Cohen, includes founding and managing partner, Susan Petro, and team members Richard W. Gaeckle and Mike Veneziani. Our personal injury attorneys have successfully handled a wide variety of serious personal injury claims. Whether your injury resulted from an automobile, truck, motorcycle, or bicycle accident, a slip and fall accident, or a construction site accident, we can assist. The team has also successfully handled many claims against public entities, dog bite injuries, maritime personal injury and boating accident cases, pedestrian injuries, premises liability claims, and traumatic brain injuries. Regardless of the type of serious injury you face, our team of qualified attorneys is there for you.
Both our workers’ compensation and personal injury attorneys offer free consultations, and only get paid if your claim is successful. We have offices in Northfield, Cape May Court House, Cherry Hill, and Hamilton, and can come to you if you are unable to come into one of the offices. To speak with one of our highly experienced New Jersey work injury or personal injury lawyers in confidence, call us at 888-675-7607 or inquire online today.