Employers in New Jersey are responsible for ensuring their employees’ safety and well-being. In the event of work-related injuries, they’re liable under the New Jersey Workers’ Compensation (NJWC) Act to make sure that workers receive fair and timely compensation benefits. For their part, employees would be well served learning the subtle but important differences between a simple personal injury case and a work-related one.
If you get injured at work, the guidance of experienced New Jersey workers compensation attorneys would be invaluable in helping you understand what your legal options are.
What is workers’ compensation?
Workers who sustain work-related injury or illness are entitled to workers’ compensation, an employer-funded insurance that provides lost wage replacement, medical treatment, and permanent disability compensation to workers, as well as death benefits to the dependents of employees whose death resulted from work-related incidents.
In New Jersey, all employers must have workers’ compensation insurance, either through a private insurance carrier or by being self-insured. The same applies to out-of-state companies in instances where an employment contract is entered into in New Jersey and for those whose work is done in New Jersey.
If you’re an employee in New Jersey, you must understand workers’ compensation that you’re entitled to.
- Lost wages
Suppose you’re temporarily unable to perform your job due to a work-related injury but are expected to recover, you’re entitled to temporary disability benefits, which may include commissions, bonuses, tips, and other similar compensation. In the event of permanent impairment or one that leads to total permanent disability, you’re entitled to permanent disability benefits, which are typically paid weekly and require the worker to show that he or she remains totally disabled.
- Medical treatment
This covers all hospitalization services and prescriptions related to the injury. In providing medical treatment benefits, the insurance carrier or a self-insured employer can select the healthcare provider that will treat the injured worker. However, employers may instruct employees to choose their healthcare provider in some cases.
- Death benefits
When workers die due to a work-related injury or illness, their dependents may be entitled to receive death benefits, which may include the weekly wages of the deceased as well as hospitalization and burial expenses.
Workers’ compensation exceptions
Workers’ compensation claims are generally guided by the principle that the accident resulting in injury must have happened while the employee was performing his or her duties or carrying out tasks on behalf of the employer. Note that certain exceptions apply such as when:
- The injury was self-inflicted.
- A worker was attempting to harm a coworker.
- The employee violated safety rules.
- The employee was intoxicated.
Suing an employer in New Jersey for a work injury
Under NJWC law, workers are typically not allowed to sue their employers for negligence because workers’ compensation is essentially a “no-fault” insurance program. That means the employees are eligible for compensation even if they’re culpable in the incident that resulted in injuries. In exchange, employees agree not to sue for negligence, whether for temporary or permanent injuries.
However, there are certain circumstances that will allow you to sue your employer or a third party in the event of an injury. These exceptions apply:
- In defamation and sexual assault cases;
- If your employer intentionally harmed you; and
- If you sustain work-related injuries and you find out that your employer doesn’t have insurance.
In any case, it’s best to seek legal counsel to ensure you get what you’re rightfully owed.