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New Jersey Workers’ Compensation Lawyers
If you have been injured on the job in New Jersey, the Reinartz Law Firm can help. It can be difficult to know what to do and where to turn after a work injury. You don’t want to jeopardize your employment, but you need medical treatment and may not be able to immediately return to work.
When you have questions about your work injury, talk to us. Our Workers’ Compensation attorneys represent employees from all industries who have suffered work-related injuries. We will answer your questions and explain your rights.
Recovering from a serious injury is difficult enough without worrying about losing your job and livelihood. Contact the Reinartz Law Firm for aggressive representation for serious work injuries.
Workers’ compensation is a form of “no-fault” insurance that provides a package of medical and disability benefits to employees who are hurt on the job. “No-fault” simply means that injured workers receive this package of benefits as of right, without regard as to who was at fault for the injury, so long as they were injured on the job.
There is, however, a tradeoff for receiving these no-fault benefits immediately after a work injury. The tradeoff is that injured employees, with limited exception, are barred from suing their employers for negligence. This bar on separate lawsuits against employers represents the Legislature’s attempt to strike a balance between the State’s mandatory no-fault insurance requirements which protect employees, and the laws that protect employers operating within the State.
About Workers’ Compensation in New Jersey
The New Jersey Division of Workers’ Compensation (DWC) was created under the State’s Department of Labor and Workforce Development in 1911 in order to simplify and protect both workers and employers. Before the DWC was established, any injuries or illnesses that were the result of working conditions were left up to the worker to handle on their own. Employees were forced to sue to their employers for negligence if they wanted any help paying medical bills. This process sometimes took years and ended up costing more to both workers and employers than the medical costs alone.
Every employer in the State of New Jersey is required to carry Workers’ Compensation insurance for the benefit of their employees, and all New Jersey employees who suffer work-related injuries or occupational diseases are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits.
Types of Work Accidents
You may not know for sure if your injury or illness is covered by workers’ compensation insurance, but the majority of work-related accidents are. We represent clients who have been injured in various accidents on the job, including:
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics https://www.bls.gov/iif/oshstate.htm) also detailed the most common injuries due to workplace incidents. They are:
Strains, sprains, and muscle tears
Soreness & pain
Cuts, lacerations, or puncture wounds
Bruises and contusions
Breaks and fractures
What Benefits are Provided by Workers’ Compensation?
Workers’ compensation insurance benefits include paid medical treatment up to the point that the injured employee reaches maximum medical improvement. This may include emergency care, hospitalization, surgery, and other treatment costs. Additionally, the medical benefits cover the cost of prescriptions and other therapy costs deemed medically necessary by treating doctors. It is important to note that the employer retains the right to choose which doctor or physician will treat the injured worker.
Temporary Total Disability Benefits
When an employee cannot work for more than seven days due to their injury or illness, they will be eligible for temporary total disability (“TTD”) benefits. This means that they are eligible to receive pay that typically equals approximately 70% of their weekly wage. TTD benefits received may not fall below or exceed certain minimum and maximum levels set by the State. Once the employee returns to work, TTD benefits will cease.
Permanent Partial Benefits
When someone’s injury or illness renders them permanently partially disabled, they may receive permanent partial disability benefits that are paid out on a weekly basis after TTD benefits cease. There are two types of permanent partial benefits, which are based on whether a disability or loss is “scheduled” or “non-scheduled.” A “scheduled” loss includes any disability that hinders the use of arms, hands, feet, legs, fingers, toes, ears, teeth or eyes. “Non-scheduled” losses involve any area that isn’t defined or included in “scheduled” losses. These typically manifest as back injuries, or problems with the heart or lungs.
Permanent Total Benefits
If the illness or injury is so severe that the employee is unable to return to any type of gainful employment, then he or she may be eligible to receive permanent total disability benefits. Permanent total benefits are paid out on a ratio based on the employee’s former level of pay. They are entitled to receive approximately 70% of their former weekly average pay. Like TTD benefits, their weekly compensation may be subject to certain minimum and maximum amounts.
Workers may receive these permanent total benefits for a period of up to 450 consecutive weeks. After those first 450 weeks, they must again prove that they are unable to return to work in order to continue receiving these benefits.
Death benefits are paid to the dependents of a worker who was killed on the job or whose work-related injuries or illness led to their untimely death. These benefits are divided among the individual dependents based on a judge’s determination after hearing the case. Only spouses and children who were living with the deceased worker at the time of death are considered to be eligible dependents.
Any additional family members who were not living with the decedent at the time of death must prove actual dependency to the court before being able to collect a portion of death benefits. This may include parents, grandparents, siblings or half- or step-children.
Additionally, state mandated death benefits include up to $3,500 to be paid to cover funeral expenses. These funeral expenses are paid to whoever is responsible for paying the funeral bill, whether it is an individual or the estate of the deceased.
How The Reinartz Law Firm Can Assist You
With the Reinartz Law Firm on your New Jersey Workers’ Compensation case, you will have an advocate who will fight for the benefits that you deserve. We assess the unique circumstances of each case to determine the need for temporary or permanent disability benefits and fight vigorously to obtain all benefits that clients are entitled to.
We will also assess the viability of a separate personal injury claim against any third-parties who were responsible for the injury, and we are equipped to pursue such claims. That way, the maximum possible compensation for the injuries is sought.
At the Reinartz Law Firm, we are committed to the fair and just treatment of all New Jersey workers. Call us today at (201) 289-8614 to schedule a consultation for your New Jersey Workers’ Compensation Claim. We are here to help.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) About New Jersey Workers’ Compensation Benefits
New Jersey workers’ compensation benefits provide medical treatment and partial income replacement to employees who have been injured on the job or developed a compensable occupational illness due to their job duties. These FAQ’s may address some of the questions and concerns you have when you or someone you love has been injured on the job.
If there’s an accident and you’re injured while performing your job duties, your employer should be informed as soon as safely possible. Workers’ Compensation rules and regulations require you to provide verbal or written notification within *14 days of the incident. After *90 days, failure to provide notification may lead to the loss of your right to benefits. *N.J.S.A. 34:15-17
How should I inform my employer if I’m injured?
Many companies provide their employees with guidance for reporting accidents and injuries in an employee manual, onboarding literature or posted notices. If your company doesn’t have an established policy, then just be sure to tell an HR person, a manager or someone else in a supervisory position about the incident. This is important whether you believe you have suffered injury or not. And if you have been hurt or don’t feel well, inform your employer of your condition.
How much time do I have to file a Workers’ Comp claim?
For most claims, you have up to *2 years to file. In the case of work-related illness that doesn’t present for many years, you may have longer to file. But you need to report the suspected occupational disease as soon as you become aware of it. *N.J.S.A. 34:15-51
What’s a First Report of Injury or Illness form?
This is a Department of Labor and Workforce Development (DLWD) Workers’ Compensation form (FORM 1A-1). It represents an official report of a job-related injury/illness. Your company will ask you questions to complete some sections of this form. It covers many details, including the following:
Time and date of the incident
When you started work
When you reported your injury
Details of the incident
Number of injuries reported, and parts of the body affected
Where the injury occurred and what equipment or chemicals were involved
Information on medical treatment
Date disability initially began
Names and phone numbers of any witnesses to the incident
What benefits are available under Workers’ Comp?
If you’re injured or become ill due to your work duties, you are eligible to receive medical care, treatment and medication for your illness or injury. When your injury prevents you from working, you may receive wage replacement payments on a temporary or permanent basis for your disability. Permanent disability benefits are categorized as partial or total. When a worker dies due to a workplace accident, injury or illness, his dependents may be eligible to receive death benefits.
What laws govern Workers’ Compensation?
The New Jersey Workers’ Compensation Act is the state law mandating and governing this coverage. The Division of Workers’ Compensation of the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development (NJDLWD) oversees much of the process, including claims approvals, benefits payments, and hearings. The Division of Risk Management (DRM) deals with case management and investigations, as well as budgeting. *N.J.S.A. 34:15-1
Can I get Workers’ Comp if my job makes me sick?
Some occupational diseases are covered through New Jersey Workers’ Compensation insurance, but your condition must meet very specific requirements.
What if my workplace injury was my fault?
Fault is typically not a determining factor in a Workers’ Compensation claim. However, if you were inebriated or under the influence of drugs and it contributed to your accident or injury, your claim could be denied.
Can I file a new claim if I already had a medical condition and an accident makes it worse?
While this type of situation can make your claim more complicated, it is possible to get workers’ comp benefits for a pre-existing condition that was re-injured or worsened by your job-related duties or a workplace accident.
What does Workers’ Comp pay if I die on the job?
Workers’ compensation death benefits are paid to the decedent’s surviving dependents, such as their spouse and children. These benefits can reach a maximum amount of 70% of the worker’s average weekly wage, based on the number of dependents. Death benefits also include funeral expenses of up to $3,500.
Can I go to my own doctor for treatment for my work injury?
Your employer and their insurer are responsible for choosing the medical professionals who diagnose and treat your compensable workers’ compensation injury/illness.* To seek treatment from your own medical provider, you would have to secure advance approval from your employer or their insurance company, though they are not required to provide this approval. *N.J.S.A. 34:15-15
What can I do if I need to see a doctor for my work injury, but my employer won’t approve my claim?
If you are temporarily disabled, you or your attorney can file a Motion for Medical and Temporary Benefits with the Division of Workers’ Compensation. Your employer and their insurer will have up to 30 days to respond. The court will then hold a hearing on the matter within 30 days and give you a decision within 15 days of the hearing.
How long do I have to wait to start getting Workers’ Comp benefits?
If you’re deemed temporarily disabled and unable to work due to a work injury, you may be eligible for temporary disability benefits to partially replace your wages. Temporary disability benefits become available after you are authorized to be out of work for at least seven days.
How long can I get temporary disability benefits for my work injury?
You are no longer eligible for temporary disability benefits once you reach maximum medical improvement (MMI), or you can return to work in some capacity. However, temporary benefits will cease, regardless, after you receive 400 weeks of benefits.
What if I’m permanently disabled from my work injury?
Permanent disability benefits, at 70% of your average weekly wage, and subject to statutory minimum and maximum rates, are paid for up to 450 weeks. At that time, you will need to demonstrate that you are still permanently disabled to continue receiving benefits.
How much does Workers’ Comp pay for my lost wages?
Workers’ comp wage replacement benefits typically equal 70% of your average weekly wage, subject to statutory minimum and maximum rates set by the Division of Workers’ Compensation for the year in which you were injured.
How is my average weekly wage (AWW) determined for my workers’ compensation payments?
Your AWW is calculated using your hourly or salaried income over the 6-month period prior to your injury/illness. Any overtime, tips, bonuses, commissions and other financial in-kind income you received from your employer for the job where you were injured during those 6 months is included. The total amount is then divided by 26 to determine the average weekly rate. If the amount falls below the statutory minimum, your benefits will be based on the minimum statutory rate. If the amount calculated falls above the statutory maximum, your payments will be based on the maximum allowable rate under the law.
If I’m permanently disabled, can I just get a lump sum instead of weekly payments?
In some cases, this may be possible, but in others, it might not be warranted and an injured worker will be better off receiving ongoing lifetime benefits.
Can I sue my employer instead of using Workers’ Comp?
The workers’ compensation system is designed to eliminate civil lawsuits for workplace injuries, so its very difficult to sue for job-related injuries. A workers’ comp claim is usually, though not always, your sole recourse against your employer. However, when a third-party who is not your employer is wholly or partially responsible for the accident/injury, you may be able to pursue additional compensation from them in a separate case.
What can I do if my employer doesn’t have Workers’ Comp insurance?
New Jersey established the Uninsured Employers Fund (UEF) to compensate injured workers whose employers failed to follow the law mandating Workers’ Compensation insurance. You may be eligible to receive medical treatment and temporary disability benefits from the UEF if your employer is uninsured.
What do I do if my employer and/or their insurance company denies my claim?
Injured workers can challenge denials through formal claims with the Division of Workers’ Compensation.