Workers’ compensation law can be complicated and confusing to clients. The following guide answers those questions that are frequently asked by workers compensation clients.
I was injured on the job. What happens next?
If you are injured on the job, you must notify your employer as soon as possible. If you require medical attention, you should also notify your employer as soon as possible. Under New Jersey’s workers’ compensation law, the employer and/or their insurance carrier can select the health care provider that will treat you for your injuries.
Will I lose my job if I file a workers’ compensation claim against my employer?
Most clients are worried that bringing a workers’ compensation claim will result in their employer terminating them. New Jersey’s Workers’ Compensation Statute, N.J.S.A. 34:15-39.1, however, protects employees. The statute directly prohibits an employer from terminating an employee out of retaliation for filing a workers’ compensation claim. Even if your workplace injury was the result of your own negligence, you are entitled to medical benefits, disability benefits, and a permanency award if your injury is permanent in nature. If, however, your actions at the time you were injured violated a company policy, your employer may have a right to terminate you. You would, nonetheless, still be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits.
If you have reason to believe that your employer terminated you for getting injured on the job or for filing a claim, you can file a discrimination complaint against your employer with Division of Worker’s Compensation. If it is found that your employer retaliate against you will be restored to you former position and awarded the payment of lost wages. If you have reason to believe that you employer fired you as a result of you disabling condition, as opposed to filing a claim, you may file a claim for violation of the American with Disabilities Act (ADA) against your employer
My insurance company is providing treatment and paying me disability benefits. Should I still file a workers’ compensation claim?
The answer to this question is YES because:
- In a workers’ compensation case you are entitled to a permanency award, which will allow you to recover some of the money you lost while you were only collecting 70% of your pay and help you get back on your feet after being injured.
- You will receive either a lump sum payment or monthly payments that will supplement your income once you have returned to work. If you do not file a claim, you are allowing an insurance company to keep funds that would otherwise be paid to you.
- If you file a workers’ compensation claim, you will extend your right to seek future medical treatment. You are entitled to apply for continued medical treatment the later of two years from the date of your accident, or two years from the last date the workers compensation carrier pays you temporary disability benefits or pays one of your medical bills. If you file a claim for permanent disability the time is extended to two years from the time you receive a payment of permanent disability. This can extend your time to seek additional medical treatment by months or years.
- If your condition worsens in the future, you can apply to re-open your workers compensation case two year from the date you last receive authorized medical treatment or payment of permanent disability benefits. An example of this is you herniate a disc while working. You receive physical therapy and feel okay. Your condition worsens over time and eventually you require surgery. If you haven’t filed a permanent disability workers compensation claim, the time lapse could bar your right to have the carrier pay for the surgery and to provide you with lost income benefits during your recovery.
- If you suffer a fairly minor injury and fail to file a permanency claim and have the Workers Compensation Court fix a percentage of permanent disability and you re-injure that body part in the future the insurance carrier may attempt to blame your condition on that previous injury and avoid paying you benefits.
I was injured due to my own negligence. Am I still entitled to benefits?
As discussed above, even if you were injured on the job due to your own negligence, you are still entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. The reason for this is law workers’ compensation law was designed to require work injuries to be considered a cost of doing business. So long as your injury occurred during the course of your employment, you are entitled to medical benefits, disability benefits, and permanency benefits if your injuries are permanent. Employers also benefit from workers’ compensation law, as they generally cannot be sued for injuries arising out of their negligence.
Wolf Law has been helping workplace accident victims for over 35 years. We know how to file a successful workers’ compensation claim and protect your rights. If you have been injured on the job, call Wolf Law today at (732)741-4448 to schedule your free consultation.