Working in construction is one of the most dangerous occupations in New Jersey. In fact, some job-related safety risks on construction sites are so prevalent that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has dubbed them the “Fatal Four.” If you work in construction, there is a good chance that you will get injured at some point in your career. If you do, here is what you need to know about filing a claim for workers’ compensation.
1. Your Employment Status Matters.
In New Jersey, workers’ compensation benefits are available to “employees.” They are not available to “independent contractors.” While some construction workers are classified as employees, many are not. If you have Social Security taxes withheld from your paychecks and if you receive a W-2 at the end of each year, then you are an employee and you are eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. If you receive a 1099 instead of a W-2, then you are being paid as an independent contractor.
However, even if you are being paid as an independent contractor, you should still speak with a workers’ compensation attorney. Why? Because your employer may have improperly classified you in order to avoid the taxes, administrative burdens, and the liability that comes with hiring employees. If you should be classified as an employee based on the nature of your work at the construction site, then an attorney may still be able to help you collect workers’ compensation benefits.
2. Workers’ Compensation Covers All Job-Related Injuries and Illnesses.
If you are eligible for workers’ compensation as an employee, then you are eligible regardless of the nature of your injury or illness. As long as you got injured or sick on the job, you should have a claim for benefits. However, in order to protect your claim for benefits, there are some important steps you need to take as soon as possible, and hiring an attorney is the best way to ensure that you do not unnecessarily (and unknowingly) jeopardize your claim.
When filing a claim for benefits, one of the keys is to be able to show that your injury or illness is job-related. Employers and insurance companies will commonly attempt to deny workers’ compensation claims by arguing that the injury or illness was not suffered on the job – especially with WEAR and TEAR injuries. As a result, after an accident, it is important to seek medical attention, right away, and you should seek legal advice as soon as possible.
3. Temporary and Permanent Injuries Are Both Eligible for Benefits.
In order to be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits, you do not need to suffer a permanent debilitating injury. Many types of construction-related injuries can heal with proper medical treatment. And even if you are only temporarily unable to work, you can still seek coverage for your medical expenses and loss of income. Under New Jersey law, temporary benefits are available for up to 400 weeks. If your disability lasts longer than 400 weeks (or is likely to last longer than 400 weeks), then you can seek “permanency” or “total” workers’ compensation benefits.
4. Regardless of Whether You Have a Workers’ Compensation Claim, You Could Also Have a Claim for Personal Injury Damages.
Under New Jersey law, if you are eligible for workers’ compensation, you are generally ineligible to file a personal injury claim against your employer. However, if you are properly classified as an independent contractor, this prohibition does not apply. Additionally, regardless of whether you have a claim for workers’ compensation benefits, you can file a personal injury claim against any third party (any company or individual other than your employer) whose negligence caused your injury or illness.
Common examples of negligence on construction sites that can support claims for personal injury damages include:
- Negligent driving resulting in collisions with work vehicles or workers on the ground
- Negligent operation of forklifts and other heavy equipment (or “powered industrial trucks”)
- Failure to properly construct and secure scaffolding
- Failure to supply safe ladders, tools, and equipment (including safety equipment)
- Failure to install adequate fall protection (including temporary guardrails)
- Failure to protect against injury risks from falling objects
- Hiring inexperienced and untrained employees and independent contractors
- Negligent installation of plumbing, HVAC, and electrical wiring and components
- Negligent excavation, engineering, and construction resulting in construction defects
Were You Injured on a Construction Site in New Jersey?
If you were injured on a construction site in New Jersey and would like more information about your right to financial compensation, we encourage you to contact the offices of Petro Cohen, P.C. for a free, no-obligation consultation.
We understand that New Jersey workers’ compensation claims can be complex and overwhelming. If you were injured at work, you should be able to concentrate on your physical healing and wellbeing, and not have to worry about your employer denying you the benefits you deserve.
The law firm of Petro Cohen, P.C. has been consistently recognized as one of New Jersey’s leading firms in the area of workers’ compensation. Since 2010, the firm has been named annually in Best Law Firms in America® for Workers’ Compensation. The head of the Workers’ Compensation Department, Frank Petro, has received the highest rating (AV) from Martindale-Hubbell, the world’s foremost authority on law firm credentials (the AV rating is only for lawyers considered the top in their field). For 26 consecutive years, Frank Petro has been named in Best Lawyers in America® for Workers’ Compensation. Additionally, Mr. Petro has been named to the NJ Super Lawyers® list for 15 consecutive years in the practice area of workers’ compensation, and is also certified by the New Jersey Supreme Court as a Workers’ Compensation Law Attorney, the highest specialty certification available to workers’ compensation attorneys in New Jersey.
If you or someone you love would like to receive more information on workers’ compensation settlements, wage loss, workplace injuries, wage claims, and how to receive benefits, contact our Northfield workers’ comp attorneys as soon as possible to schedule your free consultation. In addition to our headquarter office in Northfield (Atlantic City area), we have three other office locations in New Jersey, including Cape May Court House, Cherry Hill, and Hamilton (Trenton). Our experienced workers’ compensation attorneys 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.