Worker's Compensation FAQ'S

The following questions are those most frequently asked by injured workers about their New Jersey Workers' Compensation claims
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Q. What should be done first, in the event of an injury at work?

A. An injured employee should report the accident to the employer immediately, or as soon as he or she is able. The employee should seek the employer’s authorization to see a doctor of its own choosing, to obtain necessary medical treatment. In an emergency, the employee should not wait but, rather, should just go to the emergency room, and notify the employer as soon as possible. Any request for further treatment should first be made through the employer, to obtain authorization.

Q. Why can't I choose my own doctor?

A. New Jersey Workers’ Compensation law says that the employer must pay for reasonable and necessary medical treatment, resulting from injuries caused by work. Since the employer is paying the bills, the employer is also given the right to choose the doctor. Any employee who goes to a doctor of his or her own choosing is at risk of being responsible for the bills. In some situations, the employer or its workers' compensation insurance company may authorize a doctor of the employee’s own choosing.

Q. What kind of compensation will I receive, while I am out of work?

A. If an employee is out of work for more than seven days in a row because of a work injury, he or she should receive 70% of gross weekly pay, as of the date of the injury, up to the State maximum, $826.00 per week for the year 2013, whichever is less. This is called "temporary" compensation.

Q. If my Workers’ Compensation claim is denied, should I apply for unemployment benefits?

A. No. Unemployment benefits are for those who are actively seeking work and are able to work. An employee may, however, be entitled to receive weekly disability payments from the State of New Jersey, Division of Temporary Disability Insurance. In a contested Workers’ Compensation case, you should apply for State Temporary Disability Benefits.

Q. How much time do I have to file a workers' compensation claim?

A. You have two years from the last date that the employer– or the workers' compensation insurance company– pays a medical bills or "temporary" compensation . If no medical bills or temporary compensation were paid, then you have two years from the date of the accident.

Q. What other types of benefits are available?

A. After you finish your medical treatment for the injury, you become eligible to receive a settlement for any permanent injury.

Q. Can I sue for pain and suffering?

A. The New Jersey Workers’ Compensation case itself is limited to three types of payments: (1) medical bills; (2) temporary compensation; and (3) any permanent disability. It does not allow for any payment for pain and suffering.

In some cases an additional claim, over and above the Workers’ Compensation claim, may be filed against another party, if they are someone who may be responsible for causing a work-related injury. This is known as a "Third Party" claim.

A "third party" is someone, other than the employer or a co-worker, who may be responsible for the employee’s injuries– usually, because of their negligence. The two most common examples of a potentially responsible "third party" are: the driver of another motor vehicle, when the employee is involved in an accident while driving for the employer; and the manufacturer of defective equipment, which causes an injury. In either of these two examples, an injured employee may collect damages, for any pain and suffering, from a responsible third party.

However, in the event that there is a "third party" recovery, the employer’s Workers’ Compensation Insurance Company will be entitled to receive an "offset", or reimbursement (in the approximate amount of two-thirds), for any payments which it makes for the employee’s medical bills, temporary compensation or permanent disability.

Q. Can I receive workers’ compensation benefits even if the accident was my fault?

A. Yes. As long as the accident occurred because of your work, it should not matter if it was caused by you, a co-worker, or your employer.

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The above "frequently asked questions" and answers are intended to provide a brief overview of the rights and obligations of the employee and the employer when there is a work-related injury due to an on-the-job accident. This general information is not intended to be legal advice, and does not apply equally in all situations. If there is any question whatsoever, appropriate legal advice should be sought. Please feel free to contact this office for an initial consultation at no cost.

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