Understanding New Jersey’s Workers’ Compensation Laws
Workers’ compensation is a “no fault” insurance program that provides medical treatment, wage replacement and partial or total permanent disability compensation to employees who suffer job-related injuries or illnesses. It also provides death benefits to dependents of workers who have died as a result of their employment. An injured employee will receive benefits regardless of who was at fault. In exchange for these guaranteed benefits, the worker does not have the right to bring a civil action against the employer for pain and suffering or other damages, except in cases of intentional acts.
The Division of Workers’ Compensation is responsible for the administration of the New Jersey Workers’ Compensation Act (N.J.S.A. 34:15-1 et seq.). This is accomplished by:
- Ensuring that workers receive fair and timely workers’ compensation benefits for work-related injuries from their employers and/or insurance carriers
- Enforcing the law that requires employers to secure workers’ compensation insurance coverage from commercial insurance carriers or self-insurance programs
- Providing certain benefit payments to injured workers who are totally and permanently disabled as a result of their last work-related injury combined with the worker’s pre-existing disabilities. These benefits commence at the conclusion of the payment of benefits from the worker’s employer.
Types of Workers’ Compensation Benefits
Medical Benefits: Necessary and reasonable medical treatment, prescriptions and hospital services related to the work injury are paid by the employer’s insurance carrier or directly by the employer if self-insured. The employer and/or its insurance carrier have the right to pick medical providers for all work-related injuries.
Temporary Total Benefits: If an injured worker is disabled for a period of more than seven days, he or she will be eligible to receive temporary total benefits, retroactive to the first day of lost time. The benefit will be paid at a rate of 70 percent of the worker’s average weekly wage, not to exceed the statutory maximum rate or fall below the statutory minimum rate established annually by the Commissioner of Labor and Workforce Development. These benefits are provided until the worker has returned to work, has reached maximum medical improvement or has reached the statutory 400-week maximum.
Permanent Partial Benefits: When a job-related injury or illness results in a permanent bodily impairment, benefits are based on the individual’s functional loss. These benefits are paid weekly and are due once temporary disability ends.
Permanent Total Benefits: When a work injury or illness prevents a worker from returning to any type of gainful employment, he or she may be entitled to receive permanent total disability benefits. These weekly benefits are provided initially for a period of 450 weeks. Benefits continue beyond the initial 450 weeks provided that the injured worker is able to show that he or she remains totally disabled. The benefits are paid weekly and are based upon 70 percent of the average weekly wage, not to exceed the statutory maximum or fall below the statutory minimum.
Death Benefits: Dependents of a worker who dies as a result of a work-related injury or illness maybe eligible to receive death benefits and funeral expenses. The weekly benefits are 70 percent of the wage of the deceased worker, not to exceed the statutory maximum, with funeral expenses up to $3,500.
Why You Should Consider Hiring a Lawyer on Your Behalf
While hiring a lawyer is not an absolute requirement, due to the adversarial nature of the proceedings, it is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. Additionally, in almost all successful cases the Workers Compensation Insurance Carrier is ordered by the judge who hears the case to pay at least 50 percent of the fee awarded to the worker’s lawyer. Of course, if unsuccessful, there is never a legal fee.
Schedule a Free Consultation To Discuss Your Claim and Your Options
To schedule a free, no-obligation initial consultation, call us toll free at 877-456-4253 to reach our Somerville office or 866-350-4939 for our Flemington office. Or, if you prefer, contact us by e-mail using our online submission form. Evening and weekend appointments are available.
Personal Injury, Workers’ Compensation & Social Security cases are done on a contingent basis–No recovery-NO FEE!