New Jersey Workers' Compensation
NJ Workers Comp: FAQ
1. WHAT AM I OBLIGATED TO DO IF I AM HURT ON THE JOB?
Under the New Jersey Workers Compensation Act, an employee is obligated to notify his or her employer of any injury which occurs on the job. An injured employee has up to 90 days to report the accident. All employers have ACCIDENT REPORTS which you should fill out immediately after your injury.
2. WHO PAYS MY MEDICAL BILLS WHEN I AM TREATING FOR A WORK-RELATED INJURY?
Under the New Jersey Workers Compensation Act, if an employee is injured on the job, the employer is responsible for all medical treatment resulting from the injury. However, the employer is entitled to choose the doctor with whom the employee will treat. A doctor chosen by your employer to treat a work related injured is called an Aauthorized doctor. Therefore, it is vital that you notify your employer as to your injury and treat with an Aauthorized doctor. If you fail to treat with an authorized doctor, you may be personally liable for all medical bills arising from the work injury.
Once you are treating with an Aauthorized doctor, the doctor will eventually release you to return to work. Under the New Jersey Workers Compensation Act, an Aauthorized doctor can only release you to return to work if you have reached Amaximum medical benefit. Maximum medical benefit means that although you still may experience pain and other symptoms, you will not benefit from further treatment.
3. HOW DO I PAY MY BILLS DURING THE TIME I AM OUT OF WORK AS A RESULT OF MY WORK INJURY?
Under the New Jersey Workers Compensation Act, you are entitled to receive Temporary Total Disability Benefits for the time period during which you are out of work. Temporary Total Disability Benefits are generally 70% of your gross weekly earnings. In order to receive these benefits, you must be: treating with an “Authorized Doctor” and the Aauthorized Doctor must have you out of work. These benefits can be paid for a maximum of 400 weeks. Moreover, these benefits will be cut once the authorized doctor determines you can return to work.
4. WHERE ELSE CAN I LOOK FOR INCOME BENEFITS IF MY EMPLOYER REFUSES TO PAY TEMPORARY BENEFITS?
Your employer may decide you are not entitled to temporary total benefits if it believes you were not in fact injured at work or your injury is not severe. Fortunately, an injured employee can contact the Temporary Disability Bureau at 609-984-3601. TDB benefits begin on the 8th consecutive day and last for a maximum of 26 months. In order to be eligible for these benefits, the employee must be treating with a doctor (does not have to anAauthorized doctor), and the doctor must have the employee out of work. Once this doctor returns the employee to work, the benefits will cease. If your injury will probably keep you out of work for more than 26 months, contact our office to discuss the possibility of applying for Social Security Disability.
5. HOW LONG WILL MY CASE TAKE TO RESOLVE?
Although every case is different, workers compensation cases generally take approximately one year or more to complete. Therefore, it is imperative to return all phone calls and letters sent by our office. Your prompt responses will facilitate the matter.
WE CAN NOT BEGIN YOUR CASE UNTIL YOU ARE DONE TREATING. Therefore, please contact our office immediately once you stop treating with a doctor.
Once you finish treating, your case is initiated with the filing of a Claim Petition. Once we file a petition, your employer will have approximately 30 days to file an answer. Once an answer is filed, all parties will begin discovery. Discovery is the process through which both sides exchange information necessary to prove or defend the case. Discovery can take several months. Typically, your employer’s attorney will serve interrogatories upon our firm. These are written questions inquiring about your accident at work. If we forward these questions to you, please return them promptly after you answer all the questions.
After discovery, both sides schedule Apermanency examinations. You will be required to attend one examination with our doctor and another with your employer’s doctor. Keep in mind, when speaking with either doctor, DO NOT MINIMIZE YOUR INJURIES, SYMPTOMS, AND COMPLAINTS. Your complaints will play a significant part in the medical evaluation of your case.
Once you attend both Apermanency examinations, your case will be listed by the Division of Workers Compensation for a status conference. At this conference, an attorney from our office and an attorney representing your employer, will discuss your case with a Judge. At this conference, either a settlement will be reached upon your approval or all parties will agree to try the case. Unfortunately, your case may not be listed by the Division for several months. Therefore, please be patient while waiting for your case to be listed by the State.
6. HOW DOES THE JUDGE DETERMINE THE AMOUNT OF MONEY I AM GOING TO RECEIVE?
Under the New Jersey Workers Compensation Act, an injured worker with a permanent injury is entitled to permanency benefits. The sole instrument used to calculate the amount of money an injured worker is entitled is outlined in a chart. The dollar figures on the chart can not be changed. The top number in a box represents the amount of weeks and the bottom number represents the amount of money. The greater the disability, the more money an injured worker is to receive. Prior to settling, you will receive a copy of this chart.
7. PRIOR CLAIMS- THE WORKERS COMPENSATION CARRIER HAS AN INDEX SYSTEM ON A NATIONWIDE BASIS WHICH SHOWS ALL OF THE PEOPLE WHO HAVE MADE CLAIMS BEFORE FOR OTHER INJURIES .
If you have made a claim in another work-related accident or a motor vehicle accident for the same part of the body, your name will be there and they will have this information. You are therefore urged to be absolutely honest with us in your answers throughout handling your case.
8. WHAT DO I DO IF I CAN NO LONGER PHYSICALLY PERFORM MY PRE-ACCIDENT JOB?
Unfortunately, in New Jersey, if you are only partially disabled you can not receive benefits for more than 600 weeks. As such, it is suggested that you contact the DIVISION OF VOCATIONAL REHABILITATION SERVICES and apply to their rehabilitation program. For the Somerville Office, call (908) 704-3030; Hackettstown Office, call (908) 852-4110; and Trenton Office, call (609) 292-5987.
9. WHAT IF I NEED ADDITIONAL MEDICAL TREATMENT AND THE WORKERS COMPENSATION DOCTOR REFUSES TO TREAT ME?
Under the New Jersey Workers Compensation Act, the workers compensation insurance carrier is obligated to pay your medical bills until you reach Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI). After that point, you will be required to file a Motion for Medical Benefits with the Court. It is possible to have an entire trial over the need for additional medical treatment. Ironically, a trial for medical treatment can take months despite the urgent need for treatment. All injured workers should know that obtaining medical treatment through a compensation carrier is a long and often drawn out process.
The information contained in this brief statement is necessarily general in its terms. Each and every case we have in our office is handled on an individual basis. Although one attorney is assigned to your case and has the responsibility for it, you have the benefit and assistance of the entire firm, including non-legal staff, in connection with the case.
We will make an effort to keep you informed by sending you copies of all papers, but it is impossible for us to call you and give you a report on this case every week. Do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions. Always contact us if you are getting worse or acquire new injuries.