Have you become ill as a result of conditions you were exposed to in the course of your work duties? If so, you may be entitled to workers’ compensation. When most people think of workers’ comp, they think of a work-related accident or injury. Thousands of New Jersey employees suffer work-related accidents each year. While workers comp insurance exists to provide medical and wage benefits to workers injured in falls, electrocutions, crush accidents, and more, it also exists to help those who develop an illness or disease due to their work.
Employees can develop an illness from exposure to chemicals or diseases in the workplace. For conditions that result in long-term physical health issues, the employee may require duty restrictions, job transfers, or the inability to work altogether. If you are wondering if your illness qualifies for workers’ compensation, this blog can provide a better understanding. Contact us today to speak with a New Jersey workers’ compensation attorney!
Is My Illness Compensable?
Under the New Jersey Workers’ Compensation Act, a compensable occupational disease arises out of and in the course of employment. The illness occurs because of conditions and characteristics of the profession that may be typical for that job. The Division of Workers’ Compensation within the State of New Jersey’s Department of Labor and Workforce Development states that any occupational disease qualifying for workers’ compensation must satisfy the following elements:
- The employee’s illness must have arisen out of employment;
- The employee’s illness must have occurred during the course of work;
- The employee must prove the illness resulted from causes particular to their specific trade, occupation, or place of employment; and
- The employee must show that their work duties contributed substantially to their illness.
Our seasoned attorneys can help you determine if your illness qualifies for workers’ comp.
Examples of Occupational Diseases or Illnesses
A workplace illness or occupational disease can occur under many scenarios, and the type of disease will vary depending on the nature of the work and exposure. Some common examples include:
- Certain types of cancer,
- Chronic lung and respiratory disease,
- Occupational asthma,
- Mesothelioma and asbestos-related conditions,
- Hearing loss,
- Carpal tunnel syndrome,
- Musculoskeletal disorders, and
- Viral infections and infectious diseases.
A sickness qualifying for workers’ comp can vary in severity and longevity.
One example of a potential occupational illness that has been the center of attention in workers’ compensation courts around the country, including New Jersey, is COVID-19. There are still many unanswered questions surrounding work-related COVID-19 exposures. Many workers in various professions contracted the disease in the course of their performing their job duties. The lasting consequences of that exposure are still widely unknown, and the courts are still trying to figure out how to appropriately and adequately handle these types of claims.
Proving the Origin of the Occupational Disease or Illness
Petitioners in workers’ compensation claims must prove their work and job duties substantially contributed to causing their illness. A classic example is a construction worker who was diagnosed with mesothelioma after spending years working with asbestos-contaminated materials.
What If I Have a Pre-Existing Illness?
Under New Jersey law, employers accept employees “as they are.” In other words, if an employee has a pre-existing condition, it does not prevent them from filing a workers’ compensation claim. Your attorney will argue the original illness or injury is irrelevant and has no bearing on obtaining workers comp benefits now.
In New Jersey, workers’ compensation is generally the exclusive remedy for employees to receive compensation for an occupational illness.
Reputation, Success, and Respect
The reality is that the outcome of your case will largely depend on the skill of your New Jersey work injury attorney and the quality of your legal representation. Your attorney’s level of education, experience, track record, legal abilities, and reputation matter – big time.
In addition, the department head, Frank Petro, is certified by the New Jersey Supreme Court as a Workers’ Compensation Law Attorney, which is the highest specialty certification available to workers’ compensation lawyers in New Jersey. He is one of only 18 lawyers in the state that have held this certification since its inception in 1998.
Frank Petro has also 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 Suzanne Holz Meola, Terri Hiles, 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.
Contact Experienced Workers’ Compensation Lawyers Today
Qualifying for workers’ compensation and ensuring you get the compensation you need can be overwhelming, especially if you attempt to navigate the process alone. If you or a loved one has been injured at work and would like to receive more information on workers’ compensation settlements, wage loss, workplace injuries, wage claims, and how to receive workers’ compensation benefits, let us help.
Contact the workers’ compensation attorneys at Petro Cohen, P.C. as soon as possible at (609) 677-1700 or fill out the form online to schedule your free consultation. We can answer your questions and determine the most efficient way to proceed in order to help you and your family obtain the compensation that you deserve.
Frequently Asked Workers’ Compensation Questions
What are the Workers’ Comp Eligibility Requirements?
There are usually just three basic requirements you must meet in order to get workers’ comp for your illness. They are:
- Your employer carries or is legally required to carry workers’ comp insurance
- You are an employee of that person or company
- Your illness (or injury) was work-related
A knowledgeable workers’ compensation attorney can help you determine if you are eligible for benefits.
Is Your Employer Required to Carry Workers’ Comp Insurance?
In New Jersey, all employers not covered by federal programs are required to carry workers’ comp insurance. If your employer claims they are not required to have workers’ comp insurance, it is time to get an attorney just to make sure your rights are being respected.
Are You an Employee?
When it comes to workers’ comp eligibility, not every worker is an employee. If you are an independent contractor, you are not an employee and you may not be eligible to receive workers’ comp. However, there are circumstances where an independent contractor can be determined to be an employee as described below. If you are a volunteer, you are not an employee, and are not eligible for workers’ comp, although there are exceptions in some states such as New Jersey for some volunteers – such as volunteer firefighters, for example.
It is not unusual for employers to misclassify employees as independent contractors. If you are an independent contractor, you might be misclassified if your employer requires you to work certain hours or perform your duties in a specific location. If your employer tells you are an independent contractor instead of an employee, read up on the differences between employees and independent contractors and get legal help if you think your employer is misclassifying you.
Is Your Illness Work-Related?
If you were doing something for your employer’s benefit and became ill as a result, your illness is work-related. If you are not sure whether your illness was work-related, or your employer is refusing to cover a work-related illness, contact an attorney immediately.
*No aspect of these rankings has been approved by the NJ Supreme Court. For references to any rating or accolade, see the methodology of the organization including Best Lawyers®, Super Lawyers®, and Avvo®.