Can You Collect Workers’ Compensation and File a Personal Injury Lawsuit at the Same Time?

Can You Collect Workers CompensationIf you have been injured on the job, you may have been told by your employer, or by someone else, that your only recourse for your losses is to file a workers’ compensation claim. The workers’ compensation laws are often the “exclusive” remedy for a work-related injury, but there are exceptions. Here’s how it works.

Under the workers’ compensation laws in New Jersey, a workers’ compensation claim is intended to operate as your sole means of redress for the negligence of your employer or a co-employee. Accordingly, if you were injured because your employer failed to provide adequate safety measures, or because a co-worker was careless in his or her duty, you must apply for workers’ compensation benefits to cover any losses.

However, if your injury was caused, in part or in whole, by the wrongful acts of someone other than your employer or a co-employer, you may be able to bring a civil suit (a personal injury lawsuit in court) against that person. Examples of situations where this option may be available include:

  • When you are injured because of exposure to or the breakdown of a dangerous or defective product
  • When you are injured in a motor vehicle accident where the at-fault driver was neither your employer, nor a co-employee
  • When you are injured by the carelessness or negligence of an adjoining property owner, a customer, vendor or other person not a co-worker

There is nothing to prohibit you from filing a workers’ compensation claim for the wrongful activities of your employer or a co-employee, and simultaneously filing a lawsuit for injuries caused by an unrelated third party. You cannot, however, recover twice for the same loss. If you have medical expenses paid by a workers’ compensation claim, you can’t seek to recover the same losses in a personal injury lawsuit in court.

Contact Our Office

To arrange a private meeting, contact us by e-mail or call our office at 908-200-2297. Evening and weekend meetings are available upon request. We take all major credit cards.

We handle all workers’ compensation cases on a contingency basis. There will be no attorney fees unless we get compensation for your losses.

Protecting Yourself during a Workers’ Compensation Medical Exam

Workers’ Compensation Medical ExamWhen you are injured on the job and file a workers’ compensation claim, your employer (and the workers’ compensation insurance provider) have the right to require that you submit to a medical examination by a doctor of their choosing. It’s called an independent examination, but the doctor will be looking for justification to either minimize or deny your claim. There are certain things you should always do, and measures that you can take, to protect your claim and your right to recovery.

Be Honest

The best approach is always the honest one. Don’t minimize your injury, but don’t exaggerate it, either. Don’t try to guess what you should say to make certain your claim is approved. Tell the doctor what you can and cannot do without pain. It’s not unlikely that your employer or the workers’ compensation insurance company will send a private investigator out to observe you in your daily activities. If you’ve told the doctor you can’t walk without pain, but you are videotaped jogging around the block, your claim will probably be denied (and you may not need workers’ compensation benefits, anyway).

Be Thorough

One of the common mistakes that personal injury victims make is focusing on “obvious” injuries to the exclusion of less-visible, but potentially more serious physical problems. Tell the doctor everything that happened and everything that’s out of the ordinary. Don’t focus on the broken leg and forget the strained neck or back, which may ultimately be more debilitating.

Ask to Have the Exam Videotaped

You have the legal right to have your exam videotaped. If the doctor refuses to comply, get an attorney involved.

Contact the Law Offices of Voorhees Law, LLC

To arrange a private meeting, contact us by e-mail or call our office at 908-200-2297. Evening and weekend meetings are available upon request. We take all major credit cards.

We handle all workers’ compensation cases on a contingency basis. There will be no attorney fees unless we get compensation for your losses.

The Death Benefits Available in a New Jersey Workers’ Compensation Claim

Death Benefits AvailableIf you are injured or become ill because of your job, New Jersey law allows you to pursue workers’ compensation benefits to cover temporary and permanent disability, as well as medical expenses. There are, as well, death benefits that will be paid if your loved one dies in a workplace accident or because of a work-related disease.

The Death Benefits Allowed in a New Jersey Workers’ Compensation Claim

If you qualify as a dependent of a worker who has died from a work-related injury or illness, you will be entitled to payment of 70% of the decedent’s average weekly wage over the 52 weeks prior to death or illness, capped at the statutory amount. As the spouse or biological child who is living with and dependent on the deceased at the time of death, you will automatically be presumed to be a dependent. However, even if you were not living with the deceased at the time of death, you can still receive benefits if you can prove to the workers’ compensation judge that you were actually dependent on the decedent.

A biological or natural child of the deceased will be considered a dependent until the age of 18, or until the age of 23, if a full-time student. A child who suffers a physical or mental disability may qualify as a dependent, regardless of age.

In addition to the weekly benefits, surviving dependents are also entitled to payment of funeral and burial expenses up to $3,500.

Contact Us

To arrange a private meeting, contact us by e-mail or call our office at 908-200-2297. Evening and weekend meetings are available upon request. We take all major credit cards.

We handle all workers’ compensation cases on a contingency basis. We won’t charge you any attorney fees unless we are able to get compensation for your losses.

Your Right to Appeal a Workers’ Compensation Denial

Your Right to Appeal a Workers' Compensation DenialYou’ve been hurt on the job or are suffering a work-related illness and you’ve filed an application for workers’ compensation benefits, but your claim has been denied. Unfortunately, it’s a fairly common occurrence. Your employer and the workers’ compensation insurance provider both have a vested interest in minimizing or denying your claim for benefits. You do, however, have the right to appeal the rejection of your claim. Here’s how you do that.

The Initial Appeal

Upon the initial denial of your application for benefits, you have a choice—you can request a formal hearing through a Claim Petition, or you can ask for an information hearing.

A petition for a formal hearing must be filed with two years of the date of your injury or the last date you received any workers’ compensation benefits, whichever came last. If your claim is based on an occupational disease, the period is two years from the date you became aware of the illness and that it was likely caused by something related to your work. The formal hearing is pretty similar to a trial, as you’ll have the opportunity to introduce evidence and to bring in witnesses to testify on your behalf, such as doctors and co-workers. Once all the evidence has been considered, the workers’ compensation judge will render an opinion (in writing). If the judge rules against you, you have the right to appeal to the Appellate Division of the Superior Court in the state of New Jersey.

With an informal hearing, you’ll probably have your case reviewed more quickly. You’ll be assigned a judge, who will schedule a hearing, but the proceeding will be far less formal. The judge may make a recommendation, based on the evidence provided, but either party can reject that recommendation. Typically, if you don’t resolve the matter at an informal hearing, the next step is to request a formal hearing.

Contact Us

To arrange a private meeting, contact us by e-mail or call our office at 908-200-2297. Evening and weekend meetings are available upon request. We take all major credit cards.

We handle all workers’ compensation cases on a contingency basis. There will be no attorney fees unless we get compensation for your losses.

Permanent Partial Disability vs. Permanent Total Disability

Permanent Partial Disability vsUnderstanding Your Rights in a New Jersey Workers’ Compensation Claim

If you have been hurt at work, and your injuries are permanent, you will be entitled to additional cash benefits, which will vary based on whether your disability is partial or total. As a general rule, these benefits do not start until your temporary disability benefits cease, either because you have returned to work or reached maximum medical improvement (MMI).

Permanent Partial Disability

If you are able to work in some capacity, but you’ve reached maximum medical improvement without full recovery, you can return to work and receive permanent partial disability (PPD)payments at the same time. Once your treating physician has certified that you’ve attained maximum medical improvement, the doctor will evaluate you and determine the extent of your permanent disability or impairment. The doctor will give you a disability “rating,” based on the nature of the permanent injuries you’ve sustained. The amount you receive will depend on whether your injury is “scheduled,” involving hands, arms, feet, legs, ears, eyes or teeth; or whether it is “non-scheduled,” relating to some other part of the body.

Permanent Total Disability

If you can’t return to work at all because of your injury, you’ll be entitled to receive permanent total disability (PTD) benefits. Similar to the temporary disability payments previously received, these payments are based on your average weekly wage for the 52 weeks prior to your injury, and are capped at 70% of that amount. Permanent total disability payments are initially awarded for a period of 450 weeks, but may continue if you are still unable to work in any capacity at the end of the initial period.

Contact Us

To arrange a private meeting, contact us by e-mail or call our office at 908-200-2297. Evening and weekend meetings are available upon request. We take all major credit cards.

We handle all workers’ compensation cases on a contingency basis. There will be no attorney fees unless we get compensation for your losses.

The Benefits You Can Expect if Your Workers’ Compensation is Approved

Expect if Your Workers' Compensation is ApprovedIf you have been injured on the job, or have contracted an occupational disease because of exposure to work-related conditions or substances, the New Jersey workers’ compensation laws allow you to recover benefits to cover the costs of medical treatment, as well as payments to compensate you for your disability.

Medical Benefits under the New Jersey Workers’ Compensation Laws

According to the New Jersey workers’ compensation guidelines, you are entitled to receive reimbursement or payment of all “proper, necessary and reasonable” medical care necessitated by your work-related injury or illness. This includes payment of all doctor’s appointments, any trips to urgent care or the hospital, all physical therapy or rehab prescribed by an approved doctor, and the cost of equipment, prescriptions or surgery, if necessary.

Under New Jersey law, your employer (and the workers’ compensation insurance company) have the right to choose your treating physician. If you want to go to another doctor (your own physician, for instance), you must either obtain permission or risk having to pay those bills yourself.

Disability Payments under the New Jersey Workers’ Compensation Statute

The disability payments you receive after an occupational injury or illness in New Jersey will be categorized as either temporary or permanent, and either partial or total. You can only receive temporary disability benefits if your injury prevents you from working. During your recovery period, you will be entitled to 70% of your average weekly wage before the accident. Temporary benefits will cease when you either return to work or have been deemed by your treating physician to have reached “maximum medical improvement (MMI).”

Contact Our Office

To arrange a private meeting, contact us by e-mail or call our office at 908-200-2297. Evening and weekend meetings are available upon request. We take all major credit cards.

We handle all workers’ compensation cases on a contingency basis. There will be no attorney fees unless we get compensation for your losses.

The Workers’ Compensation Process—Getting Started

Workers' Compensation ProcessThough work-related injuries are fairly commonplace, it’s still a pretty traumatic experience when an accident on the job, or an occupational illness, makes it difficult or impossible for you to work, and requires significant medical treatment. If you’ve never had to deal with a workplace injury or illness before, you may be unfamiliar with the process and what you need to do to protect your rights. Over the next few blogs, we will walk you through the workers’ compensation process, so you know exactly what to expect and can work closely with your attorney to get the benefits you need and deserve.

Your First Response

In the aftermath of a work accident, or if you have contracted a disease or illness because of something you were exposed to at work, your first step should be to notify your employer, although it’s always a good idea to retain legal counsel as soon as possible. In New Jersey, if you don’t report your injury or illness within 90 days of the date of the accident or the diagnosis of the illness, you may lose the right to recover benefits through a workers’ compensation claim.

Once you have notified your employer, your employer must provide notice to its workers’ compensation insurance provider. The insurance company is then required under law to prepare a “First Report of Injury” form and file it with the New Jersey Division of Workers’ Compensation. The insurance company will make the initial determination whether or not to approve your claim, and will typically do so within 30 days. If your claim is approved, you should start receiving benefits within a couple of weeks of the approval, and your benefits will be retroactive. If your application for benefits is denied, you have a right to appeal.

Contact the Law Offices of Voorhees Law, LLC

To arrange a private meeting, contact us by e-mail or call our office at 908-200-2297. Evening and weekend meetings are available upon request. We take all major credit cards.

We handle all workers’ compensation cases on a contingency basis. There will be no attorney fees unless we get compensation for your losses.

What Can You Expect to Receive in a New Jersey Workers’ Compensation Claim?

Temporary Disability Benefits

What Can You Expect to Receive in a New Jersey Workers' Compensation ClaimUnder New Jersey’s workers’ compensation laws, you are entitled to receive temporary disability benefits if you have been unable to work for more than seven days because of a job-related injury. You’ll typically receive temporary benefits until you return to work, have achieved maximum medical improvement or have received benefits for 400 weeks. To determine the amount of your weekly benefit, the workers’ compensation insurance company will first determine you gross weekly wages. The payment will be 70% of that amount, but is capped at $896 a week.

Permanent Disability Benefits

If you are unable to fully recover from your work accident, you will be entitled to either permanent total disability benefits or permanent partial disability benefits. The Workers’ Compensation Board will make a determination as to the degree of your disability. If you are determined to be permanently totally disabled, you will continue to receive payments at the temporary rate, provided your disability remains total and permanent. Under the guidelines, certain types of injuries—amputation or loss of limbs or eyes—may automatically qualify you for permanent total disability payments. You may also be entitled to lifetime benefits if you are unemployable because of your injury.

If you have a partial disability, but can still work in some capacity, you may be entitled to benefits as well. The amount of benefits is determined based on the type of injury, and is known as a scheduled or nonscheduled loss. Scheduled losses are those that appear on the list of injuries. Nonscheduled losses do not appear on the schedule and are typically based on a percentage of your former wages.

Contact Us

To arrange a private meeting, contact us by e-mail or call our office at 908-200-2297. Evening and weekend meetings are available upon request. We take all major credit cards.

We handle all personal injury cases on a contingency basis. There will be no attorney fees unless we get compensation for your losses.

Mistakes to Avoid When Applying for Social Security Disability Benefits

Mistakes to Avoid When Applying for Social Security Disability Benefits

Mistakes to Avoid When Applying for Social Security Disability Benefits

If you have an injury or illness that prevents you from working, you may be eligible for monetary benefits through the Social Security Administration. You have to be careful, though, that you don’t unintentionally jeopardize your right to receive benefits. Here are some things to avoid.

Don’t File for Unemployment If Your Social Security Disability Claim is Still Pending

Your Social Security disability claim is premised on your representation that you are unable to work. However, when you file for unemployment compensation, you typically must state that you are ready and able to work in order to be able to collect benefits. Accordingly, the administrative law judge reviewing your Social Security disability claim may determine that, if you were ready and able to work, you don’t qualify for Social Security disability payments.

Don’t Earn Too Much

Under current Social Security Administration rules, you can earn up to $1,130 per month and still collect Social Security disability payments. However, the extent to which you work in any capacity can put you at risk of losing your Social Security disability benefits, as an administrative law judge may determine that you have the ability to work and don’t qualify for Social Security disability.

Don’t Ignore Your Doctors

You’ll find it extremely difficult to collect Social Security disability benefits without an opinion from a medical professional. But you may also run into difficulties if you don’t follow your doctor’s advice. If you are prescribed medication, rehab, physical therapy or any other treatment, don’t ignore or avoid it.

Contact Us

To arrange a private meeting, contact us by e-mail or call our office at 908-200-2297. Evening and weekend meetings are available upon request. We take all major credit cards.

We handle all Social Security disability cases on a contingency basis. There will be no attorney fees unless we get compensation for your losses.

The Fatal Four – The Most Common Construction Site Accidents

The Fatal Four – The Most Common Construction Site Accidents

There are lots of ways to get hurt on a construction site, and the injuries are often serious. In fact, statistics show that more than 900 construction workers died from work-related accidents in 2015, with nearly two out of three caused by four types of accidents—the so-called “fatal four.”

Falls from Heights

More than any other factor, falls from heights cause fatal accidents on residential and commercial construction sites. Studies show that that almost 40% of the accidental deaths on building sites involve falls from upper levels or roofs, as well as poorly designed, constructed or maintained scaffolding or ladders. Often, owners or contractors fail to install safety mechanisms, including barriers, guard rails or construction fences. In addition, many workers die because of the malfunction of cranes, elevators, harnesses and other devices that allow them to work at heights.

Falling Objects

Another one in ten of the deaths occurring on construction sites are caused by falling objects. This can include a wide variety of items, from construction materials to tools or job site debris.

Electrocution

Often, in the push to complete a project, carpenters and other construction workers will be side-by-side with electricians, exposing them to live electrical current. In addition, many projects go up around live overhead power lines. Electrocutions account for nearly 10% of all construction site deaths.

Caught-Between Accidents

These types of accidents can happen a number of different ways. A worker may get trapped or crushed under equipment or between heavy equipment and the building structure, or by a collapsing wall or trench. Caught-between accidents are responsible for approximately 7% of all construction site deaths.

Contact Us

To arrange a private meeting, contact us by e-mail or call our office at 908-200-2297. Evening and weekend meetings are available upon request. We take all major credit cards.

We handle all construction site injury cases on a contingency basis. There will be no attorney fees unless we get compensation for your losses.

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