New Jersey law provides benefits for employees and workers who sustain an injury or disease on the job. The term injury is defined broadly and includes traumatic injuries to all body systems, as well as occupational illnesses that occur over a period of time. A traumatic injury is the type you can see or feel happen suddenly, such as a fall down a steps or a pop in the back when lifting. An occupational injury or disease happens over time through day in and day out exposure to elements or repetitive motions. Once a worker is injured on the job, a worker is entitled to receive treatment, lost wages, and compensation for permanent injury.

The New Jersey Workers’ Compensation Act covers all bodily injuries, occupational diseases and occupational illnesses that occur during the worker’s scope of employment. Some type of injuries and diseases that are covered are as follows:

  • Broken bones
  • Torn ligaments
  • Strains and sprains
  • Bulging and herniated discs
  • Back injuries
  • Neck injuries
  • Head injuries
  • Injuries to vision
  • Auditory injuries
  • Plantar fasciitis
  • Respiratory issues due to exposure
  • Orthopedic issues due to repetitive use
  • Neurological due to trauma and/or exposure to the elements at work
  • Mental injuries directly caused by the work environment or secondary to a physical injury
  • Cardiac issues as a result of work trauma or exposure at work
  • Injuries resulting from altercations that arise out of the workplace
  • Any other injury or disease not listed that is a result of exposure, trauma or repetitive motion at work

MEDICAL TREATMENT

An injured worker is entitled to all reasonable and necessary medical treatment until the worker has reached MMI, which is Maximum Medical Improvement. This means, at some point, medical care is not helping you anymore and you will be discharged from treatment with doctors. Up to that point, the injured worker is entitled to doctor visits, specialist visits, diagnostic testing, such as x-rays and MRIs, hospital visits, lab work, surgery, neurological testing, rehabilitative services, and any other treatment that is curative. New Jersey does not provide for what is considered palliative treatment. Palliative treatment is treatment that makes you feel better, but does not cure your underlying condition. Examples of palliative treatment include massage and chiropractic treatment and are not covered under the Workers’ Compensation law. In many cases, a worker does not receive all of the treatment that is necessary. A lawyer will help you get your treatment by filing a Motion before the Workers’ Compensation Court.

WAGES

Under New Jersey Workers’ Compensation law, a worker who is out of work and treating for a work related injury is entitled to temporary total disability payments. If you are placed out of work by a treating physician for seven days or more, you should receive these wages retroactive to the first day missed. The employee should receive 70% of average earnings for the 26 weeks prior to the injury. For example, if a worker made an average of $1,000 a week for the prior 26 weeks, he or she would receive $700.00 while out of work for that injury. The maximum rate for a worker in 2015 is $855.00 per week. An employer only has a duty to pay a worker wages in New Jersey while they are treating. Once treatment stops, the right to receive wages also stops.

LIGHT DUTY

Sometimes a doctor will allow a worker to go back to restricted light duty during treatment. The worker should return to work if light duty is available. If no light duty exists, the worker will continue to receive their wages until they are returned to full duty or discharged from care.

PERMANENT DISABILITY BENEFITS

Compensation for permanent injury is the most underpaid benefit. This is because the law does not require employers to tell employees about it and many employees do not even know it exists for them. After treatment has concluded, your attorney should send you to an examination by a doctor to determine whether you have permanent injury or restriction resulting from your work related accident.If you did sustain permanent injury, you are entitled to compensation. You may be entitled to one or two types of injury.

  1. Permanent Partial Disability Benefits: This benefit is payable to you if you have received partial impairment of your ability to function in and outside of the workplace. Your award is based on a schedule of disabilities which identifies body parts and percentage losses. Once a percentage loss is identified from each body part, you will receive a corresponding monetary benefit. You lawyer should help you maximize your percentage loss and your monetary recovery.
  2. Permanent Total Disability Benefits: If you cannot return to any work whatsoever because of the injury or illnesses sustained at the job, you can receive permanent total disability benefits, which is a maximum payment of 70% of wages you earned prior to the injury. Total disability is paid for 450 weeks and can go beyond if you remain disabled. A lawyer can help you evaluate if you are entitled to permanent total disability. If so, a lawyer should make appropriate applications to the court and provide medical exams to prove your case.

DEATH BENEFITS

When a worker dies from an injury or illness sustained at work, the worker’s dependents are entitled to death benefits. The dependents include spouse, children, and potentially other family members that are dependent on the deceased worker. The dependents will share the benefits as long as each person remains dependent. The death benefit pays 70% of the worker’s wages prior to injury that caused death. If there are multiple dependents, they will share in the benefit. The deceased worker’s family may also be entitled to a funeral expense in the amount of $3,500.00.

A lawyer can help you at first by educating you on your rights and helping you understand the procedure of bringing a worker’s compensation claim. A lawyer will help you understand the law at the onset of your claim. A lawyer will also help you obtain all of the medical treatment you are entitled to and avoid any interruptions of wages during treatment. At the end of the case, a lawyer will help you receive the most compensation possible for any permanent injury. In many cases where an injured worker does not consult a lawyer, the injured worker does not often receive the permanent disability benefit at all. This is because the worker will not know that the benefit is available to him or her unless they seek the assistance of counsel. In many cases, the worker will have given up a substantial amount of money just simply because he or she does not know about the benefit. A lawyer will help you receive this benefit by bringing a claim and sending you to doctors that will help evaluate the nature and extent of your permanent injury.

An injured worker should seek the advice of a lawyer at the beginning of the claim. Many injured workers are afraid to call a lawyer because they believe they will be fired or reprimanded at work. The law protects injured workers from being terminated or otherwise being treatment unfairly because they have brought a worker’s compensation claim. You should call a lawyer immediately after being injured so that you can get a full understanding about what types of benefits you are entitled to at that time and the procedures for making sure that you receive all of your benefits. A lawyer can help expedite your medical treatment and ensure that there are no interruptions in the payment of your wages during treatment. At the end of your case, a lawyer will help you maximize your recovery for any permanent injuries you are left with.

A lawyer in a worker’s compensation case should cost you no money out of your pocket. The law requires the lawyer to handle the case on what we call a contingency fee basis, which means that you will not have to pay the lawyer unless you recover money for permanent injury at the end of the case. The lawyer will be entitled to 20% of what you recover, but in most cases you will not pay the full 20% because the insurance company will pay a portion. If you do not recover, you will not be obligated to pay a lawyer. In addition, the lawyer should front all of your costs for obtaining medical records and medical reports. You will pay the lawyer back out of your recovery at the end of the case. If you do not recover, you should not be required to pay the lawyer back for these costs.

Many employees do not want to bring a worker’s compensation claim because they fear suing their employer. Once an injured employee is injured at work, the employer is required by law to report it their insurance company. Once the claim is reported to the insurance company, the company places what is called “reserves” on the claim. These reserves are based upon what the insurance company believes will be the costs of lost wages, medical treatment, and compensation for permanent injury. These “reserves” are set aside upon reporting the claim by the employer. If the employee does not collect all of his or her benefits, the unspent reserves go back to the insurance company. Although the employee will name the employer on the claim petition, it is the insurance company that adjusts and pays the claim.

New Jersey law forbids an employer for firing or taking negative employment action against an employee for bringing a workers’ compensation claim. All employers are required by law to carry workers’ compensation insurance for their workers who are injured at work. Once the injury occurs, the employer is required to give notice to the insurance company so that the insurance company can put money on the claim. No negative employment action should be taken by the employer. A employer who does take negative action against the employee can be fined under the workers’ compensation law and can be sued civilly for damages. In most cases, an employer does not take negative action against an employee for bringing a workers’ compensation case. In fact, most employers cooperate in the process and want to see that their employee gets the treatment and the benefits that they have paid for on the employee’s behalf.

  • “Mrs. Kavanagh did a great job helping me with my case. She and her staff were on top of things with the insurance company and the courts. Kavanagh & Kavanagh is the firm to go to for any legal help with your workers’ compensation claims. Thank you again Vicki Kavanagh.”

    – T. Suggs
  • “What can I say about the law firm of Kavanagh & Kavanagh. They are very friendly and eager to help you in any way they can. They are willing to listen to problems and give you the best solution. I have been with Kavanagh & Kavanagh for over four years, and no matter how small or big my problem is, they will get you what you deserve. I would not put my trust in any firm other than Kavanagh and Kavanagh. If you go see Kavanagh & Kavanagh you will not be disappointed.”

    – R. Moore
  • “I highly recommend Vicki Kavanagh to handle your workers’ compensation needs. If you have been injured on the job, she is the one to call. She has handled my case with persistence, knowledge and professionalism. She is quick to respond to phone calls, emails and has open communication. I have total trust in her that she is able to handle all workers compensation issues. Kavanagh & Kavanagh also has a nice office staff that can assist you. Thanks for all your help and hard work.”

    – R. Bianco
  • “My name is not important, but the service I received is. On September 16, 2009, I got hurt at work. I was getting the run around with workers’ compensation. I was not getting any treatment that was necessary. I consulted with Victoria Kavanagh and this is when I got my first MRI, which indicated my S1 was completely gone, my L5 and L4 were sitting on top of each other. I had to have two major back surgeries and they considered me unfixable. Ms. Kavanagh got me awarded full disability for the rest of my life, along with pain management. The workers’ compensation Paralegal, Janis, helped me every step of the way without question. I would recommend this law firm without hesitation. They treated me like a person with real problems instead of just a number. Thank you Victoria Kavanagh and Janis for listening to my needs and then following through.”

    – A Client of Kavanagh & Kavanagh