As a general rule, when you get hurt on the job in New Jersey, you are entitled to collect workers’ compensation benefits. Of course, there are a number of exceptions, and collecting benefits is rarely as straightforward as filing a claim and waiting for your first check to come in the mail. But what happens if you are injured post-termination (i.e. after being fired)? Are you still entitled to file a claim for benefits? If not, what other options do you have available?
When Can You File a Claim for Workers’ Compensation After Being Terminated?
The very nature of workers’ compensation means that post-termination injuries generally will not be covered. If you are injured and the accident is unrelated to your employment (because you are unemployed), then you cannot file a claim for benefits. However, just as there are exceptions to the general rule for workers’ compensation eligibility, there are some exceptions to the rule for post-termination ineligibility as well. For example:
- If you are notified of your termination prior to the official end of your employment, then you will still be covered until your employment officially ends.
- If you are terminated while on a business trip or on a site visit, you may be covered for the remainder of your trip back home.
- If you slip and fall while walking to your car after being terminated, or if you get in an accident in the office parking lot after being fired, you may still be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits.
These are highly fact-specific scenarios. If any of these describe your individual circumstances, you should speak with an attorney, promptly, to find out if you are eligible to file a claim. Remember, if you are eligible for benefits, you only have 90 days to provide notice of your claim to your employer, and acting quickly can be critical to preserving your legal rights.
What Are My Options If I am Not Eligible for Workers’ Compensation?
Now, let’s assume that you are not eligible for workers’ compensation for your post-termination injury. What are your options for recovering your medical expenses and other losses?
While workers’ compensation provides “no-fault” benefits for qualifying injuries, in order to file a personal injury claim outside of workers’ comp, you generally need evidence of negligence. In other words, you must be able to prove that someone else was at fault in the accident. Although New Jersey’s worker’s compensation statute protects employers against personal injury lawsuits from their employees in most cases, if you were not an employee when you got injured, then this protection should not apply. If you are barred from filing a personal injury claim, then you should be eligible for workers’ compensation. If you are ineligible for workers’ comp, then you should be entitled to file a personal injury claim just like any other non-employee.
Of course, the fact that you suffered a work-related injury does not necessarily mean that your former employer is the one to blame. For both current and former employees, filing a personal injury claim against a property owner, vehicle driver, contractor, subcontractor, or other third party will often be a possibility. Common third-party personal injury claims arising out of work-related accidents include:
- Auto Accident Claims – If you were injured in an auto accident that was someone else’s fault, recovering your losses will most likely mean dealing with the insurance companies. However, if the driver who hit you was working at the time of the accident, you may have a claim against his or her employer.
- Construction Site Accident Claims – Construction sites can be dangerous places regardless of whether or not you are on the clock. Contractors, subcontractors, shipping companies, and other businesses will often be responsible for accident victims’ losses.
- Premises Liability Claims – If you slipped and fell at your old office or job site or if you were injured in any other premises-related accident, you may be entitled to compensation from the property owner under New Jersey’s law of premises liability.
- Product Liability Claims – Dangerous and defective products often cause job-related and non-job-related injuries as well. If you were injured by a malfunctioning tool, piece of machinery, or other product, you may have a claim against the product’s manufacturer.
- Claims Against Public Entities – If you worked for a government agency or you were injured in a government building, then you may have a claim against a public entity.
Speak with an Attorney at Petro Cohen, P.C.
If you have a work-related injury that occurred after you were terminated from employment, we strongly recommend that you reach out to our firm for a free consultation. Petro Cohen, P.C. has a qualified team of workers’ compensation attorneys, as well as personal injury attorneys. With our knowledge and experience in both of these practice areas, we can guide you as to what type of claim you might have.
The attorneys at Petro Cohen handle claims throughout New Jersey, including Atlantic, Burlington, Camden, Cape May, Cumberland, Gloucester, Mercer, Monmouth, Ocean, and Salem counties.
Determined to providing the highest quality of legal service available, the firm’s lawyers and staff share a passion for winning and have a track record to prove it. We have an uncompromised commitment to every client we represent. The Petro Cohen team of have more than 175 years of combined experience and have the knowledge and skills to help you get all the benefits you rightfully deserve.
Select Excellence. Every member of our firm is a dedicated professional whose sole mission is the success of your case. We measure our success solely by your success. Expect to be treated with the highest level of professionalism every step of the way in our representation of you.
If you have questions about your potential claim and would like more information, we encourage you to contact us for a free initial consultation. To speak with an attorney at one of our four convenient office locations throughout New Jersey (Northfield, Cape May Court House, Cherry Hill, and Trenton) please call 888-675-7607 or request your free consultation online today.