The New Jersey Workers’ Compensation Act provides medical and indemnity benefits to individuals who suffer work-related injuries. Since workers’ compensation is a no-fault system, it covers many injuries that would not be compensated if they did not occur on the job. So, how do you determine if your injury is “work-related”?
What Is a “Work-Related” Injury?
A work-related injury is any injury or illness that you suffer during the course and scope of your employment. This includes three primary types of medical conditions: physical injuries, occupational illnesses, and repetitive stress (what we call WEAR and TEAR) injuries.
Some of the most common work-related injuries include physical injuries suffered in the course of employment. These may include injuries resulting from your job duties (such as hitting your hand with a hammer or straining your back while lifting), injuries resulting from other people’s actions (such as being hit by a reversing vehicle on a construction site), or general injuries suffered in the workplace (such as bruises or broken bones from falling down the stairs). The most common workplace accidents frequently result in injuries to the
- Bones, muscles, and tendons
- Feet, ankles, hands and wrists
- Head and face
- Lower back
Another common type of work-related injury is the occupational illness. Occupational illnesses are any illnesses that you contract while performing or as a result of your job-related duties. For example, if you work in a doctor’s office or hospital, this could include blood-borne illnesses or contagious diseases spread by patients. If you work in a factory or have a construction job, asbestos poisoning, illnesses from chemical exposure, skin irritation (eczema), and asthma are just a sampling of the occupational illnesses you could face on a daily basis.
WEAR and TEAR Injuries
The third type of work-related injury that may entitle you to workers’ compensation is what we call a WEAR and TEAR™ injury. A WEAR and TEAR™ injury is any injury that occurs as a result of repetitive stress over a period of time. This includes carpal tunnel syndrome for office workers, as well as a variety of other types of injuries commonly suffered by workers across all occupations and professions. Read more about common causes of repetitive stress injuries.
What about Injuries Suffered in an Accident During My Commute?
Is an injury suffered during your commute a “work-related” injury? Maybe. While the general rule is that injuries suffered driving to or from work are not covered by workers’ compensation, there are several important exceptions. For example, if your employer asked you to run an errand before coming into the office, your auto accident injuries may be covered by workers’ compensation.
This can be a complicated area, and if you have questions about your rights after being injured during your commute, we invite you to call and speak with one of our attorneys.
Three Critical Facts to Know About Filing for Workers’ Compensation in New Jersey
Many employees in New Jersey know very little about the state’s workers’ compensation system and the availability of workers’ compensation benefits to employees injured on the job. Unfortunately, without a basic understanding of the system and the process, employees who suffer legitimate, work-related injuries may unknowingly give up their rights to the benefits and compensation they deserve.
If you suffered an injury while on the job, it is very important to seek legal representation from an experienced workers’ comp attorney as soon as possible after the incident. To stress this importance, we have provided a brief list of three critical facts to know about filing for workers’ comp benefits in the great state of New Jersey.
New Jersey’s Workers’ Comp System is Considered “No Fault”
Unlike plaintiffs in personal injury lawsuits, who must prove by a preponderance of the evidence that the defendant was negligent or otherwise liable, injured employees have no such burden of proof under the state’s workers’ comp system. This means that an injured employee does not have to establish that the employer was in any way at fault in order to be eligible for workers’ comp benefits – only that the employee’s injury occurred while on the job and in the course and scope of employment.
In exchange, the law (in almost all cases) prohibits employees from suing their employers for pain and suffering and other damages available to plaintiffs in civil personal injury lawsuits.
You Must Adhere to Strict Deadlines When Filing for New Jersey Workers’ Comp Benefits
In order to successfully file for workers’ comp benefits, you must notify your employer of the accident and injury as soon as possible. If it is not an emergency, you should immediately submit a request for medical treatment to your employer.
If the workers’ comp insurance company denies your workers’ comp claim because it disputes one or more elements of the claim, you have a limited time to file an application for an informal hearing (the filing of which does NOT stop the two-year statute of limitations that applies to state workers’ comp cases).
The Insurance Company – Not You – Has the Absolute Right to Choose Your Treating Physicians
New Jersey’s workers’ compensation laws provide that your employer and/or workers’ compensation insurance company have the absolute right to choose the physicians who evaluate, diagnose, and treat you for your work-related injury (with a few limited exceptions, such as in the case of emergency). If you wish to see a different medical care provider without prior authorization from the workers’ comp insurance company, you may be liable for all associated medical costs.
Speak with a New Jersey Workers’ Compensation Lawyer at Petro Cohen Petro Matarazzo
Workers’ comp attorneys exist for a reason: the system is complex, difficult to navigate, and wrought with potential missteps for injured employees. At Petro Cohen Petro Matarazzo, we have decades of experience helping injured employees receive the workers’ comp benefits they deserve.
Our firm 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.
In addition to the firm’s stellar reputation, the department head, 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® every year since 1995 and by Super Lawyers® every year since 2005. Moreover, he has achieved a rating of “Superb” on the leading lawyer-review website, Avvo®, the highest achievable rating.
Along with Stephen M. Matarazzo, Suzanne Holz Meola, Terri Hiles, Steven Lubcher, and Daniel Rosenthal, our New Jersey workers’ comp attorneys have 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 are going to have a skilled New Jersey work injury lawyer who will work for you.
To learn more about your legal rights, call (888) 675-7607 or e-mail one of our attorneys for a free consultation today.