The Second Injury Fund is a state-administered Fund with the ultimate goal of helping previously injured and disabled workers get back to work. It is designed to protect future employers of these disabled workers from liability for compensation related to a subsequent, new work injury.
What Does the Second Injury Fund Do?
The workers’ comp Second Injury Fund assumes liability for compensation benefits attributable to prior injuries or illnesses. This happens when a worker subsequently becomes totally disabled because of a workplace injury. These cases involve an injured worker who has become totally disabled from work. The disability is caused by an old injury or illness or medical condition in combination with a new work injury. The Fund covers liability for compensation payments to amounts applicable to the latest injury. The Fund assumes liability for any remaining continuing benefits.
Types of Second Injury Fund Benefits
The Second Injury Fund becomes a party to a New Jersey workers’ comp claim that alleges total disability involving preexisting injuries and conditions if the injured workers’ atorney files a verified petition to jon the Fund. The Second Injury Fund pays out only monetary permanency benefits. It makes no payment for medical expenses or medical bills. If you need treatment for your compensable condition while receiving Fund benefits, you must notify your employer’s compensation insurance carrier.
Payments from the Fund commence at the conclusion of payments by the employer or the employer’s workers’ comp insurance carrier and continue until the death of the worker if the worker remains totally and permanently disabled from the injury. If you are successful in your Second Injury Fund case, the Fund is responsible for the payment of permanency benefits attributed to the percentage of disability caused by the preexisting condition and disability.
For example, let us say a worker had a leg injury at work years ago. This leg injury causes a disability, but the employee can return to work with a new employer. Then, while working for the new employer, the worker suffers a new injury to his back and becomes totally disabled. The total disability is caused by both the new back injury as well as the ongoing partial disability caused by the old leg injury. The Second Injury Fund will pay for the permanency attributed to the percentage of disability associated with the old leg injury.
The Secondary Injury Fund permanency benefits are not paid in conjunction or at the same time as the workers’ comp permanency benefits for the work-related injury. The Fund benefits begin once the workers’ comp benefits stop. These benefits are merely a continuation of benefits after the regular ones have stopped. If the injured claimant remains unemployed and totally and permanently disabled, they will receive these benefits for the rest of their life. There are no death benefits.
Who Pays for the Second Injury Fund?
Under New Jersey law, the New Jersey Commissioner of Labor levies an annual surcharge on all workers’ comp insurance policyholders and self-insured employers to provide money to fund the Second Injury Fund.
How to Win a Second Injury Fund Case
To win benefits from the Second Injury Fund, you must establish three elements:
The injured worker is totally disabled from work. This can be established through the expert medical opinion of a medical doctor.
The worker’s disability was caused by a valid, timely, and compensable work-related injury.
The physical injury, symptoms, and conditions that are causing the total disability are from the new work injury, but also from a preexisting injury, illness, or medical condition.
An important note to make is that the preexisting condition, illness, or injury does not have to be a result of a work-related injury. It can be caused by anything. The injured worker always has the burden of proof in proving entitlement for Second Injury Fund benefits.
Claiming Benefits from the Second Injury Fund
These cases can be very difficult to litigate. It is especially difficult given the fact that, by definition, the disability from the current job is caused by both old and new conditions. Because of the complexity, if you have been injured at your new job and are disabled from work, a smart move is to hire a firm that focuses its practice on New Jersey workers’ comp cases and Second Injury Fund litigation.
Questions about a workers’ comp claim through the Second Injury Fund should be directed to a lawyer because the Office of Special Compensation Funds (the NJ State division that administers the Fund) cannot provide you with legal advice.
Call the Experienced Workers’ Comp Attorneys at Petro Cohen, P.C.
Petro Cohen, P.C. has assisted injured workers in South Jersey for decades. The firm’s Workers’ Compensation Department has more than 100 years of combined experience, among Department Head and Senior Partner Frank Petro, Partners Suzanne Holz Meola, and Terri Hiles, and attorneys Daniel Rosenthal and Sam Scimeca. Working together with you, they will ensure you receive the medical treatment you need and the compensation you deserve. Petro Cohen, P.C. has offices to serve you in Northfield, Cape May Court House, Cherry Hill, and Hamilton, NJ. To determine if you may have a potential workers’ comp and/or personal injury case, schedule your free and confidential consultation with a Petro Cohen, P.C. lawyer by calling. You can contact us through our online form or via 24/7 live chat at PetroCohen.com.