New Jersey Workers’ Compensation – Your Rights as an Injured Worker

Injured at work? You do have rights?

In New Jersey, a worker injured at work may be entitled to follow in benefits even if the accident was your fault:

  1. Free Medical Care
  2. Pay While Unable to Work
  3. A Cash Settlement

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New Jersey Workers’ Compensation – An Overview

The Workers’ Compensation is a system to compensate the injured worker without consideration of fault. This system developed to address the inequities of common law remedies. The injured worker, under the common law, was required to prove negligence of the employer to recover. The worker also had to overcome the employer’s defenses of fellow servant, contributory negligence, and assumption of risk. This became a costly, time consuming and unreliable remedy. When the injured worker prevailed that worker could obtain a significant recovery, but the injured worker who didn’t prevail might well become a public charge. Therefore this rather remarkable remedy of Workers’ Compensation developed.

In exchange for the sometimes significant recovery to the worker who could prevail under the common law, every injured worker, with a few exceptions, receives a fixed compensation. Employers, while giving up their defenses, are only responsible in Workers’ Compensation. Their liability is limited to “scheduled” compensation payments. Workers’ Compensation is generally the exclusive remedy available to the injured worker against his employer and/or his co-employee.

Workers’ Compensation Benefits

Workers’ Compensation benefits for the non-fatal injury include the provision of medical treatment, temporary disability payments while an injured employee is unable to work and has not reached maximum medical improvement, and permanent disability. Dependency benefits are paid to statutorily defined survivors when death results from an injury due to employment.

Workers’ Compensation is remedial social legislation to ensure that employees injured on the job will be paid without regard to fault. The effect of the compensation statute on the covered “employee” is to take away his or her common-law remedies against the “employer” and to substitute in their place a remedy that requires the employer to pay the compensation benefits stipulated in the statute. The right to pay the compensation is the covered employee’s exclusive remedy against the employer. In understanding this rule, the State of New Jersey is self-insured for Workers’ Compensation pursuant to N.J.S.A. 34:15-1 et seq.; there is no other insurance involvement. All matters regarding case management and investigations are administered by the Division of Risk Management. The New Jersey State Department of Law and Public Safety, Division of Law, provides legal advice pertaining to claims and litigation support. The Division of Risk Management (DRM) is responsible for the budgeting of Workers’ Compensation obligations. All Workers’ Compensation obligations, including payments for medical treatment, temporary and permanent disability, are approved and processed by the Division pursuant to N.J.S.A.34:15-7 and N.J.S.A.34:15-43.

Workers’ Compensation: What are the “Eligibility Requirements”?

To be eligible for Workers’ Compensation, a worker’s injury must arise out of and in the course of the employment. The Division of Risk Management oversees this decision process. If the injury is deemed compensable in nature, the injured worker is entitled to the full benefits of Workers’ Compensation. When medical treatment is warranted, the treatment is fully governed by the State of New Jersey, through our medical management facility, Horizon Casualty Services, Inc. If the injury results in lost time from work, the employee could receive monetary benefits through Workers’ Compensation, as well. The benefit is based on 70% of the employee’s base salary at the time the injury occurred. However, compensation cannot exceed the rate that is allotted for the year in question. Pursuant to medical findings which support an accredited record of permanent disability, monetary awards could be granted, as well. The amount of the award is based on the percentage of disability related to the injured body part(s) in question.

What is a “Work-Related” Injury?

In determining if a reported injury is covered under Workers’ Compensation, one must first determine if the injury is a direct result of the employee’s employment. The cause for injury must fall under the guidelines pursuant to N.J.S.A. 34:15-1 et. seq. A work-related injury is an injury which occurs out of and in the course of State employment. “In the course of employment” is defined as when employees are at their place of work, during the hours that they are expected to be there and engaged in doing the task that they were employed to do. This does not necessarily mean that the employee would have to be at the employer’s office or premises at the time. The employee could be traveling to or from appointments or doing work at other places designated by the employer. Overtime is included in the equation, as well. In order to be compensable, the accident must result in bodily injury. No compensation is payable for property damage which is the result of the accident. The injury for which a compensable claim is made must be the proximate result of the accident the employee sustained. If there is no such causal relationship, then the employee may not recover benefits.

What are the reporting time line/requirements for Workers’ Compensation?

Under the Workers’ Compensation Statute (N.J.S.A. 34:15-17), unless the employer shall have actual knowledge of the occurrence of the injury, or unless the employee, or someone on their behalf, or some of the dependents, or someone on their behalf, shall give notice thereof to the employer within fourteen (14) days of the occurrence of the injury, then no compensation shall be due until such notice is given or knowledge obtained.

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