Frequently Asked Questions about Workers’ Compensation Claims
Helpful Information from Blair C. Lane, Sr., Attorney at Law
Q: If I am injured at work, what should I do?
A: The first thing that you should do is if possible immediately report the incident to your supervisor or employer and seek medical care, advising your employer where you sought medical attention.
Q: Can I still recover Workers’ Compensation Benefits even if the accident was my fault?
A: New Jersey law states that accidents arising out of and in the course of employment are compensable without regard to the negligence of the employer in all cases except when the injury or death are intentionally self-inflicted or when intoxication either by alcohol or drugs is the natural and proximate cause of the injury.
Q: Aside from reporting the injury to my employer, what else should I do?
A: You should contact this office or an attorney admitted to practice law in your state to discuss your rights.
Q: How long do I have to file a claim for Workers’ Compensation benefits?
A: The Statute of Limitations or the time period in which you must file a claim for New Jersey workers’ compensation benefits is generally two (2) years from the date of the accident. In rare cases the time period may be extended to file a claim petition within 2 years of the failure of the employee to receive payment in accordance with an agreement between the employer and the employee, or within 2 years of the last payment of any compensation by an employer for a work-related injury. As a rule of thumb, always make sure that a claim petition is filed on your behalf and filed on your behalf within 2 years from the date of the accident.
Q: How does my case get filed with the State of New Jersey?
A: The actual claim is filed using a Workers’ Compensation Claim Petition form which is filed with the State of New Jersey, Division of Labor.
Q: What information do I need to assist the attorney in completing the Claim Petition form?
A: In order to assist the attorney in completing the Workers’ Compensation Claim Petition form, you will need the following information:
- Your Social Security Number, name, address, including county;
- The name and address, including county, of your employer;
- If possible, the name, address and claim number of your employer’s worker’s compensation insurance company;
- The date of the accident, the location of the accident; the description of how the injury occurred;
- A description of your occupation;
- The date you stopped work and the date you returned to work, if you have, in fact, returned to work;
- A description of your sex, date of birth, marital status;
- The date the injury was reported to your employer and to whom;
- A copy of your pay stub or information concerning how much you earned, including your gross weekly wages.
Q: How do I get medical treatment?
A: Except for an emergency, (a trip to the emergency room and/or hospital), your employer is to furnish you with medical, surgical and other treatment and hospital services that are necessary to cure and/or relieve you of the effects of an injury and to restore the functions of an injured part, member or organ of your body where such restoration is possible. The employer, and more specifically, your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance company, is responsible for and can control, authorize or de-authorize medical care for the injured worker. The employer and/or the insurance carrier may use any number of methods to provide medical care including a primary physician and clinics and/or managed care organizations. In order for you to receive medical treatment and to have your employer or your employer’s workers’ compensation carrier pay for your medical bills, you must go to the doctors authorized by your employer or your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance company.
Q: Can you see your own doctor?
A: The answer to this question is generally “Yes”. You may see you own doctor if your employer or employer’s insurance company has notice of a particular doctor’s care and has not de-authorized the same or specifically told you that you have to see a particular doctor only.
Q: What do I do for pay while I am unable to work?
A: Under New Jersey workers’ compensation law, as long as you meet the requirements for a workers’ compensation claim, your employer and/or your employer’s insurance company is obligated to pay you 70% of your gross weekly wage with a statutory maximum provided per year. You must also be out of work a total of 7 days before you are entitled to receive temporary disability benefits. In order to be paid while you are unable to work, you must have proof by way of either a doctor’s note or prescription that you are unable to work for a particular period of time.
Q: What happens if the doctor informs me that I can return to work for light duty status only – can I still recover my temporary disability benefits?
A: If the treating physician states that you are in need of additional treatment but releases you for light duty, your employer must either provide light duty for you, or in the event that they do not have a light duty position, keep you out of work and continue to pay you your temporary disability benefits until you have either completed treatment or are no longer disabled and can resume full duty.
Q: What happens if I was injured at work and I have a workers’ compensation claim and my employer does not pay me time out of work or my medical bills?
A: In this particular case, a motion for medical and temporary disability benefits can be filed with the court for a judge to decide these issues.
Q: What happens if I am out of work and can’t work because of my injury, and need money to live and pay my bills prior to the time period that the court can decide the motion for medical and temporary disability benefits? What do I do?
A: If you had worked and/or were employed by a New Jersey employer, you may be able to apply for State Disability Benefits. However, as part of your application, you will need the information completed by your employer and your physician, certifying that you are disabled. You must also include a special form referred to as a “Certification of Contested Workers’ Compensation Claim Form.” You are not entitled to recover both State Temporary Disability Benefits and Workers’ Compensation Temporary Disability Benefits. In the event that the court orders that Temporary Disability Benefits be paid, you may have to repay any State Disability Benefits you received for the same time period..
Q: Aside from the other benefits, am I also entitled to an award of compensation or money?
A: In New Jersey, an employee who sustains an injury arising out of and in the course of employment, may be entitled to either temporary total disability benefits and/or permanent partial and/or permanent total disability benefits if you have sustained a loss of function, organ, system or body part, and that there is medical evidence by way of either a doctor’s report and/or testimony, setting forth that you have sustained functional restrictions and that there has been a material lessening of your working ability and whether there has been a disability of the broader sense of an impairment in carrying out your normal, daily pursuits of life.
Q: Can my employer fire me for filing a worker’s compensation claim?
Pursuant to N.J.S.A. 34:15-39.1, it is unlawful for any employer or his duly authorized agent to discharge or in any other manner harass or discriminate against an employee as to his/her employment because such employee has claimed or attempted to claim workers’ compensation benefits from your company. The key is whether the employer fires you because you are claiming worker’s compensation benefits or for other reasons. Unless you have a contract or belong to a union your job may not be guaranteed.
Q: Are all work-related accident claims covered by Workers’ Compensation?
A: The answer to this question generally depends on your work-related status and/or employment status. For example, under New Jersey law, the following persons are excluded from State Workers’ Compensation coverage:
An independent contractor, a casual employee, a sole proprietor, partner, railroad employee, member of a crew of a ship or Federal employee. You may also be disqualified if you were intoxicated or taken illegal drugs which caused your accident. There are many other instances which may cause you to be disqualified from these benefits, but they depend on the facts surrounding your particular accident. Each case is different and that is why you shouls contact Mr. Lane for a free case evaluation.
For more information, please contact Blair C. Lane, Sr., 856-208-4105 (toll free at 888-231-5462) to arrange a confidential meeting. We take Visa, MasterCard and Discover.