Millions of workers are hurt on the job each year in New Jersey and across the U.S. These injuries can be serious and potentially life-threatening. They often threaten workers’ ability to support themselves and their families – both immediately after the injury as well as in the future.
On-the-job injuries and illnesses occur due to a variety of factors. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), common types of on-the-job injuries include:
Fortunately for those who suffer work-related injuries, help is available.
Workers’ compensation in New Jersey provides benefits for medical expenses, lost wages and temporary or permanent disability for workers that become injured or ill in the course of their employment.
If you have suffered a job-related injury or illness, it is important to know the important first steps you must take to obtain workers’ compensation benefits.
According to the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development, these steps include:
1. Notify your employer.
Immediately notify your supervisor, manager or personnel office that you have suffered an injury or illness. If you are unable to notify them yourself due to your condition, do so as soon as you are able. In New Jersey, the time limit for notification is 90 days. The sooner you let your employer know about your injury, the better.
If you verbally gave your employer notice of your injury, follow it up with written notice. While written notice is not required, it is still a good idea and will help you to pursue the benefits you deserve.
Be sure to include the date and time of your injury as well as the name of the person to whom you originally reported your injury. Keep a copy of this notice for your own records.
2. Get medical attention.
Insist on getting medical attention as soon as possible. Under New Jersey’s workers’ compensation laws, injured workers must be pre-authorized for treatment from their employers, and the employer or their insurance company can select a physician to treat the injured worker.
Even if you think your injury is minor or something that will go away on its own, request medical treatment anyway. In the event of an emergency, the requirement for pre-authorization is waived.
After initial treatment, be sure and follow up on any additional appointments, medications or other instructions your doctor advises.
3. Pay attention to details.
When possible, make notes regarding the circumstances surrounding your injury and any contributing factors such as hazardous materials or known safety violations. Make a mental note of the conditions and circumstances surrounding your injury as well.
4. Get witnesses.
Make the effort to get contact information from any co-workers or others who may have been present at the time you were injured. They can corroborate your account of how your injury occurred – specifically the fact that it was work-related.
5. Check the status of your workers’ compensation claim.
After receiving notice of your injury, your employer has 21 days to file a First Report of Injury form with the New Jersey Division of Workers’ Compensation. Follow up with your employer to see if this has been filed. If your employer has not filed it, you may need to consult with your workers’ compensation attorney.
Either your employer or its insurer will investigate your workers’ compensation claim to determine if your injury is valid, and your claim has merit.
If your claim is delayed for 30 days or more, you should consult a workers’ compensation attorney immediately. Under the state workers’ compensation laws, your employer may be liable for additional compensation as well as attorney’s fees if your claim is unreasonably or negligently denied or delayed.
Disagree with the Decision on Your Workers’ Compensation Claim?
Waiting to receive benefits can be stressful, but you can alleviate some of the anxiety by knowing what to expect when filing a workers’ compensation claim.
If your claim is approved, you may be able to begin receiving benefits in as little as two weeks. If your claim is denied or if you disagree with the amount awarded, you will have two years to file a formal appeal with the Division of Workers’ Compensation.
You may also file for an informal hearing before a judge of compensation. The judge will hear from you as well as from your employer or its insurer and make a decision based on the evidence. However, the judge’s decision in an informal hearing is non-binding. It will not stop the clock on the two-year time limit for the formal appeals process.
Workers’ Compensation Fraud Allegations
Finally, it’s important to point out that workers’ compensation fraud allegations can be made against both employees and employers.
Employers and insurers can commit fraud by failing to obtain workers’ compensation coverage or by misrepresenting the payroll or classification of its employees.
Injured employees may be accused of fraud for misrepresenting their job status, making false statements regarding the nature or severity of their injury or misrepresenting the degree of disability their injury causes.
Workers’ compensation fraud is a serious crime in New Jersey. Workers who are found guilty will have their benefits terminated and will be required to pay back any overpayments.
When applying for workers’ compensation benefits, do not overstate or exaggerate your injuries or your progress in recuperating from them. The best and safest way to get the maximum benefits you are entitled to by law is to simply be honest.
Contact Our Experienced New Jersey Workers’ Compensation Attorneys
If you or a loved one has been injured on the job, contact Davis, Saperstein, & Salomon, P.C. Our experienced New Jersey workers’ compensation attorneys have the legal experience and knowledge you need and deserve. We will seek the maximum amount in benefits for you. Call or connect with us online today.