Catastrophic Injuries In the Workplace

Most workplace injuries that employees experience require short-term treatment and care, but do not ultimately prevent an employee from working at all. With proper care and treatment, most physical ailments can be addressed, and an employee will go on the enjoy a long and productive career.

However, workers occasionally experience much more serious and traumatic injury in the workplace, such as sudden and life-changing accidents, or long-term illness. These types of injuries are known as catastrophic injuries in the workers’ compensation world, which can be life changing and may entitle employees to ongoing benefits and support.

What Constitutes A Catastrophic Injury In Northfield, New Jersey?

Workplace injuries can take all kinds of forms, but in New Jersey, a catastrophic injury is one that is life-changing. Typically, this means it is the kind of injury that results in a permanent disability and prevents an employee from returning to work. Examples of catastrophic injuries include:

  • Spinal injuries resulting in paralysis
  • Amputation of a limb
  • A traumatic brain injury
  • Blindness
  • Severe burns that result in scarring or loss of movement.

Catastrophic injuries are injuries that do irreparable harm to your body, and require ongoing support because they are likely to prohibit further employment.

Benefits For Catastrophic Injuries

If you have suffered from a catastrophic injury, you will be entitled to what are known as permanent total benefits. As the name suggests, these are benefits that are available to you permanently, unlike other forms of workers’ compensation benefits that are only available for a limited duration of time.

In some cases, the award of permanent benefits immediately may be obvious, such as when you are blinded by a workplace injury. In other cases, such as with a brain or spinal cord injury, you may start out receiving temporary total benefits, but transition to permanent benefits when it becomes clear that your condition will not improve.

Permanent benefits are initially available for a period of 450 weeks. However, as long as you are able to demonstrate that you are unable to work because of your disability, you can continue to renew permanent benefits for the remainder of your working life.

Permanent total benefits are typically calculated as the average of your weekly wage for the 26 weeks preceding when you were injured. Whatever your average weekly wage is, you will receive 70 percent of that wage as your benefit. Under New Jersey law, this must be at least 20 percent of the average statewide weekly wage, so if you work a particularly low-paying job, you may receive a bump in benefits.

In addition to the payment of a weekly wage to allow you to pay your bills and support yourself, you will also be entitled to ongoing support for medical bills and medical treatments.

Getting to Permanent Disability Status

It may seem obvious that if you are suffering from a serious work-related injury, you should be entitled to permanent disability status. Under New Jersey’s workers’ compensation system, however, workers’ compensation doctors must confirm that your medical condition will not improve, and you therefore are not able to work.

Workers’ compensation doctors are typically paid by the insurance providers who provide compensation benefits, and as a result are hesitant to diagnose permanent disability as it will result in a significant payout for their employer. For this reason, there may be times where an employee will feel certain that he or she should be granted permanent disability status, but a doctor will be reluctant to do so.

When this happens, it is important to speak with a workers’ compensation attorney as soon as possible. An experienced attorney may be able to work with you to fight your doctor’s reluctance to give you permanent disability status, and to gather the necessary medical information to show that permanent disability is appropriate.

New Jersey Attorneys Helping You Recover From Serious Injury

If you have recently been involved in a catastrophic injury, the last thing that you should have to worry about is where your next paycheck will come from and what your disability status is. Your attention should be devoted to recovery, not on fighting your employer over future benefits.

At Petro Cohen, P.C., our workers compensation attorneys will work with you to secure permanent disability status where needed, and to make sure that your permanent disability benefits continue to be renewed. We will stand up to insurers and fight for your rights to safety and security after a life-changing accident.

Petro Cohen, P.C. has a stellar reputation for excellence and has been consistently recognized as one of New Jersey’s leading firms in the area of workers’ comp. The firm received the highest rating by Martindale-Hubbell – the world’s foremost authority on law firm credentials – in Professional Excellence and Ethical Standards and Legal Ability.  The department head for the workers’ comp team, Frank Petro, is respected locally, regionally, and nationally as a leading attorney in this specialized field. He has been recognized as an outstanding attorney by Best Lawyers® for 25 consecutive years and by Super Lawyers® for 15 consecutive years. Moreover, he has achieved a rating of “Superb” on the leading lawyer-review website, AVVO®, the highest achievable rating.

Along with Suzanne Holz Meola, Terri Hiles, and Daniel Rosenthal, the workers’ comp team has more than 100 years of combined experience, having successfully handled thousands of litigated workers’ comp cases throughout New Jersey. This experience and winning track record means that you have skilled New Jersey workers’ compensation lawyers who will work for you.

We have offices in Northfield, Cape May Court House, Cherry Hill, and Hamilton, NJ.  For your convenience, you can contact all four of our offices Monday through Friday from 8:30 AM until 5:30 PM, with an answering service for after hour calls.

For more information or a free consultation, visit where you can Live Chat or fill out an online contact form. You can also e-mail us at any time at or call us at (888) 675-7607.