Have you suffered an injury while working at your job? If you are an employee with wages reported on a W2 (or, in some cases, on a 1099), or are an independent contractor, you should file a claim for workers’ compensation.
In New Jersey, workers’ compensation provides medical treatment, wage replacement, and permanent disability compensation to employees who suffer job-related injuries or illnesses, and death benefits to dependents of workers who have died as a result of their employment.
Should you consult an attorney about workers’ compensation? That is entirely up to you — but it is always good practice to consult appropriate counsel to ensure you receive the benefits entitled to you under New Jersey law. If you choose to retain our services, the Certified Civil Trial Attorneys of Spector Foerst & Associates are ready to represent you.
Not only can you receive temporary wages or salary payments while you are out of work, plus coverage of your medical bills; you also can petition for compensation for your pain and suffering as a result of your on-the-job injury. Your claim can be for emotional as well as physical trauma.
Certain rules govern your ability to collect workers’ compensation:
- You must be a bona fide employee.
- You must be at work when the injury occurs. Injuries suffered while traveling to or from your job do not qualify.
What is the process with a work-related injury or illness?
- First you should file a claim through your employer.
- All reasonable and necessary medical treatment, prescriptions and hospitalization related to your work injury are paid by the employer’s insurance carrier or directly by the employer if the employer is self-insured.
- Your mileage for travel to and from medical appointments is reimbursable.
employer has the right to designate the treating physician for your work-related
injuries ― you do not use your own health insurance for a workers’ comp claim.
- If your employer refuses to provide medical treatment, or if an emergency exists, you may choose your own treating doctor ― and, should your employer refuse, your next call should be to Spector Foerst & Associates.
- In an emergency, you should notify your employer as soon as possible about your injury and your treatment.
- If you are unable to return to your normal job because of a work-related injury, you are entitled to vocational rehabilitation, including placement services and other help finding new employment.
Types of disabilities
You may collect for a temporary total disability if your injuries cause you to be out of work for more than seven days.
In some cases, you could be left with either a permanent partial disability or a permanent total disability. Benefits are based on a percentage of certain “scheduled” or “non-scheduled” losses.
- A “scheduled” loss is one involving arms, hands, fingers, legs, feet, toes, eyes, ears or teeth.
- A “non-scheduled” loss is one involving any area or system of the body not specifically identified in the schedule, such as your back, heart or lungs.
You might qualify for a permanent total disability based on your doctor’s evaluation. If you have lost two major members or a combination of members (e.g., an eye and a hand) you may qualify automatically. Some other serious injuries qualify you automatically if they render you unemployable.
Finally, should you die because of a work-related injury or illness, your dependents might be eligible to receive death benefits and funeral expenses.
As with so many things in life, workers’ compensation is a trade-off. Workers’ compensation insurance pays only a percentage of your wages, not the full amount. It also pays nothing for your pain and suffering.
What you do get is fairly quick turnaround on your claim so you are not without a paycheck ― albeit a slightly smaller one than usual ― for long. And you don’t have to file a lawsuit to receive those payments.
In some cases, however, you might be able to file a claim to recover something for your pain and suffering and other losses. Here is where a seasoned professional from Spector Foerst & Associates can help.
Should you settle your workers’ comp case?
Settling your case would give you a large lump sum of money ― but be careful in computing your alternatives so that you do not give up more than you’re getting. A workers’ compensation attorney from Spector Foerst & Associates can help you work out the pros and cons of settling, and for how much.
If you are on permanent total disability and considering settling, you should not do so without consulting a lawyer. Give us a call for a free consultation.
Fees in workers’ comp cases
Note that your attorney cannot charge a fee to represent you in a workers’ comp case. The judge assigned to your case will set the fee, which is usually 20% of the benefits awarded you.
Occasionally, disputes will arise in a workers’ comp case, and here, too, a Spector Foerst & Associates workers’ compensation specialist will be able to help you. If your claim is denied, or the insurance company terminates your benefits, or your employer cuts your wages or changes your job status, contact us for a free consultation.