How Do I Report My Workplace Injury in New Jersey?

workplace-injury

If you have been in an accident at work, or you’ve developed an occupational disease or are suffering from some type of repetitive stress or motion injury caused by your job, the first thing you need to do is take care of your health. Once you’ve received necessary emergency medical treatment, though, the next important step is to advise your employer of your injury. Don’t undergo any elective medical care until you’ve notified your employer of your injury.

Typically, you’ll want to notify your employer of your injury within 14 days, but there’s usually no reason to wait more than a day or two, unless you are uncertain of the extent of your injury, or your injury takes a week or more to fully manifest. The longer you wait, though, the more reluctant your employer and the workers’ compensation insurance company will be to honor your claim, and the greater risk that some intervening event will give the insurance company the opportunity to argue that your injuries are not work-related. If you don’t provide notice within 90 days, you may forfeit all right to obtain workers’ compensation benefits.

Under New Jersey law, you must be out of work for at least seven calendar days before you are eligible for workers’ compensation benefits, though you will receive compensation retroactive to your date of injury, if your claim is approved. There is, however, no waiting period to obtain reimbursement or payment for medical care for work-related injuries.

That does not mean, however, that you have to wait seven days before notifying your employer. In most instances, you are best-served by notifying your employer as soon as practicable.

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.

Are You Limited to the Benefits Available under a Workers’ Compensation Claim?

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When you’ve been hurt on the job, your first course of action is typically to notify your employer and initiate the process to receive workers’ compensation benefits. But is that your only legal option? That depends.

Under the workers’ compensation laws, workers’ compensation benefits are intended to cover any injuries caused by the carelessness or negligence of your employer or a co-employee. They do not limit your rights to recover for losses caused by other parties. Accordingly, if you suffer injuries caused in part or in whole by someone other than your employer or a fellow employee, you can file a separate legal action to recover for those losses. Some common situations where a worker may seek damages in addition or instead of through a workers’ compensation claim include:

  • Injuries caused in a work-related motor vehicle accident, if the at-fault driver was neither your employer nor a co-employee
  • Injuries caused when a product, machine, tool or piece of equipment breaks down or malfunctions, causing an injury
  • Injuries caused by a vendor, customer or other person not working for your employer

These types of lawsuits, known as “third party actions,” are outside of the workers’ compensation process and essentially take the form of civil lawsuits. Accordingly, with a third party action, you’ll have to go through discovery, file a complaint, and take your case to trial, if necessary. You may also have to wait months or years before you see any compensation. However, if your injuries were caused in part by your employer and in part by a third party, you can actually seek damages simultaneously through a workers’ compensation claim and a lawsuit.

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.

How to File a Workers’ Compensation Claim in New Jersey

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In New Jersey, as in all other states, when you have sustained an injury in the workplace, you generally have a right to pursue benefits through the state’s workers’ compensation system. The workers’ compensation laws were set up to provide benefits to both employers and employees. Legislators intended that employees benefit from the streamlined process, so that payment of benefits would start much sooner than if a lawsuit had make its way through the courts. Legislators also established guidelines for payouts, so that employees don’t have to worry about unreasonable jury verdicts.

To pursue workers’ compensation benefits in New Jersey, you must first qualify. There are only two requirements—you must have been working at the time of the injury, and you must have been hurt. After you have sought any required medical attention, you must notify your employer as soon as possible, but no later than 30 days after the injury. Your employer may require that you undergo a physical examination, and has the right to choose the examining physician. That does not mean, however, that you cannot receive treatment from your own physician.

When you notify your employer of your injury, your employer will notify the company’s workers’ compensation insurance provider. Based on the finding of the examining physician, or upon other evidence, the workers’ compensation will either approve or deny your application for benefits. If your petition is denied, you have the right to file either a formal claim petition or an application for an informal hearing with the New Jersey Division of Workers’ Compensation. A workers’ compensation judge will then be assigned to your case and the hearing will be scheduled. Based on testimony at the hearing, the judge will either approve or reject your claim.

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.

Can My Employer Terminate Me While I Am Trying to Obtain Workers’ Compensation Benefits?

Employer Terminate

You’ve been hurt on the job and you’ve filed for workers’ compensation benefits or are actually receiving payments on an approved claim. Can your employer terminate you while you are off the job because of a work-related injury? The answer is “it depends.”

Under New Jersey law, an employer is only prohibited from firing an injured employee if the termination can be shown to be in retaliation for filing a workers’ compensation claim or for testifying at a workers’ compensation proceeding. Because New Jersey is an “at will” employment state, an employer may terminate an employee at any time for any reason, provided the termination is not in violation of a valid employment contract, is not in violation of the law, or is not contrary to public policy.

If you believe you have been wrongfully terminated because of a workers’ compensation claim, you can initiate a discrimination complaint through the workers’ compensation system. To be reinstated, or to recover compensation for wrongful discharge, you will have to show, however, that you were able to perform the essential duties of your job.

If you can’t show that your employer fired you because of your participation in a workers’ compensation claim, you may still have legal recourse, if you can show that you are actually disabled. Your employer may have to make reasonable accommodations for you in the workplace and you may potentially have a claim for violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (the ADA) if you are treated differently because of a disability.

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.

Do I Qualify for Workers’ Compensation Benefits?

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In New Jersey, as in every state, you have a right to pursue workers’ compensation benefits when you are injured on the job. However, before you start receiving benefits, you must meet the specific criteria set forth in the statutes. Here are the requirements.

The Injury Must Be Job-Related

Workers’ compensation benefits are payable only for injuries sustained during the course of your employment. If you suffered injuries outside of work that prevent you from doing your job, you may be eligible for New Jersey State Temporary Disability benefits or Social Security disability benefits if your medical conditions are expected to keep you from working for more than 12 months. To succeed with a workers’ compensation claim, though, you must show a work-related injury that can be proven by medical evidence. It’s not necessary that you be engaged in the specific tasks related to your job. For example, if you were traveling for work and got hurt in a motor vehicle accident, you can seek workers’ compensation benefits for those injuries.

You Must Have Been Working for the Person or Company from Whom You Seek Benefits

The workers’ compensation laws in New Jersey tend to be liberally interpreted when it comes to defining whether a worker was an employee. If you are salaried or hourly and receive a regular paycheck, you meet this test. However, you may be what is normally considered an “independent contractor” and still qualify. New Jersey courts tend to look at how much control an employer had over the conditions of your work and the relative nature of the work performed. If the employer exercises a lot of control over how you plan and perform during working hours, you may be considered an employee. Furthermore, if the work is an integral part of the business, the person performing it may be construed as an employee.

The Company Must Have Had or Been Required to Have Workers’ Compensation Insurance

In New Jersey, all employers, whether corporations, partnerships or sole proprietorships, must either have a valid policy of workers’ compensation insurance or be approved for self-insurance.

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.

Making the Best Impression at Your Workers’ Compensation Hearing

Workers' Compensation Hearing

First impressions are lasting, and the same holds true in workers’ compensation hearings. If you need to attend a hearing, here are some things to avoid.

Don’t Be Late

Plan on arriving at least 30 minutes before the scheduled time for your appearance. You can never incur the wrath of the court by being early.

Dress Appropriately

workers’ compensation hearing is a serious matter. Take the time to ensure that your attire is appropriate. You don’t have to wear a suit or a dress—that may be overdoing it—but don’t come in shorts and a t-shirt. Take the time to groom yourself and make certain that your clothes are clean and wrinkle-free. You want to give the impression that you take the proceedings seriously. Another bit of advice—leave the gaudy jewelry and fancy watches at home. They don’t leave a good impression with the judge.

Be Honest and Responsive in All Exchanges

Tell the truth and don’t embellish. The workers’ compensation insurance provider will be represented by counsel. If you exaggerate in an attempt to get your claim approved, you will likely be exposed in a not too positive light. Don’t act as if you are owed something, either. Let the facts speak for themselves.

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.

What Your Attorney Needs to Prepare for a Workers’ Compensation Hearing

Attorney Needs to Prepare for a Workers' Compensation Hearing

If you have been injured on the job, your first step will likely be to file an application for workers’ compensation benefits. Don’t be surprised, though, if what seems like an open and shut case doesn’t end up that way. Many workers’ compensation claims are initially rejected, for a variety of reasons. If your employer or the workers’ compensation insurance company challenges your claim, for any reason, you’ll need to present your claim to a judge. Here’s what your lawyer will need to prepare for that hearing.

To recover workers’ compensation benefits, you need to show that you suffered an injury on the job. Your attorney will want:

  • Medical records regarding your injury—To succeed in your claim, you’ll need to show that you sustained injuries that can be proven by objective medical evidence. You will most likely be required to submit to a physical examination by a company-chosen doctor. Make certain you tell your doctor about anything that’s out of the ordinary after the accident and get the doctor to document everything in writing.
  • Evidence indicating your wages for the last year—The amount of benefits paid may be based on your average weekly wage for the last 26 weeks immediately before the accident. Pay stubs or a W-2 may supply this information.
  • Evidence that the injury occurred at work—If there were witnesses to your injury, your lawyer will want to interview them to gather evidence to prove your case.

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 on a contingency basis. There will be no attorney fees unless we get compensation for your losses.

The Social Security Disability Death Benefits

Social Security Disability Death Benefits

If you are a surviving family member of someone who qualified for or was receiving Social Security disabilitybenefits, you may qualify for death or survivor benefits.

Surviving Spouses

To qualify for benefits as the widow/widower of an SSDI recipient, you must have been married to the beneficiary for at least nine months before his or her death. This requirement may be waived, however, if you are the biological parent of your deceased spouse’s child. In addition, you will only be entitled to benefits if your spouse was fully insured under the Social Security disability program.

If you are also disabled, you can qualify for disabled widow benefits if you meet each of the following criteria:

  • You must be at least 50 years old
  • Your disability must have begun after you reached the age of 50, but before you became 60
  • Your disability must have begun before the death of your spouse or within 7 years after his or her death
  • Remarriage will terminate your eligibility in most instances

 

  • If you are not disabled, you cannot receive survivor benefits as a spouse until you are 60 years old.

 

Surviving Children

Children of a fully insured Social Security disability recipient can receive benefits until age 18 or until they complete elementary or secondary education. To receive benefits, the child must not be married. Benefits are not limited to biological children—adoptees, stepchildren and grand children may qualify. In addition, a child who is or becomes disabled before age 22 is entitled to benefits without regard to age.

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.

Reasons Your Social Security Claim May Be Denied

Social Security Claim May Be Denied

If you have an illness or have been injured (in an accident unrelated to your job), you may qualify to receive Social Security disability income benefits. There are, however, a number of specific reasons why your claim may be denied:

  • You have too much earned income – You can receive income from other sources and still qualify for Social Security disability benefits, but there’s a cap on how much other income you can earn. In 2016, the ceiling for earned income is $1,130 per month. This does not include income from investments – only work related income counts.
  • Your disability is only temporary – You won’t qualify for Social Security disability or SSI benefits unless you can show that your condition will keep you from working for at least 12 months or will cause your death.
  • You can’t be found by the Social Security Administration – Before you can receive benefits, the Social Security Administration must be in contact with you to approve your application. If you don’t have a good address or phone number with the SSA, or don’t have an attorney who can be contacted on your behalf, your claim can be denied.
  • You don’t follow doctor’s orders – If, as a part of your claim, you are prescribed certain medications or treatments, you must comply or risk the denial or termination of your claim. There are limited exceptions to this rule, but you need to communicate any difficulties to the Social Security Administration.
  • You fail to cooperate with the Social Security Administration – As a part of the application process, you may be required to submit to a physical examination by a doctor chosen by the Social Security Administration. If you fail to do so, your claim may be denied.

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.

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