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What happens when someone is injured at work?
Any accident can have devastating consequences. However, when someone is injured at work, it is important to understand some basic principles. New Jersey has specific guidelines regarding workers’ compensation and it is essential to know the rules
Authorized medical care
First, if you are injured in a work-related accident, notify your employer, immediately. With the exception of emergency treatment, New Jersey employers (via their insurance companies) are entitled to select medical providers. Automobile insurance and health insurance carriers are not required to pay medical bills for injuries relating to work accidents. This treatment is called authorized medical care.
Temporary disability benefits
Most workers recognize that a portion of the deductions in their pay goes to the State of New Jersey for disability benefits. However, this program is intended for accidents that are not work- related. It is up to your employer to file a claim on your behalf with the workers’ compensation carrier. The New Jersey Division of Workers Compensation sets forth clear guidelines regarding payment of temporary disability benefits. Temporary total disability benefits are available to employees when an authorized treating physician determines that the injured employee needs to miss work for at least seven days.
Rates for temporary disability are determined by the year in which the accident occurs. For example, if you have surgery in 2014 for an incident that occurred in 2013, you will be paid 2013 rates. Benefits are determined by computing 70% of the average of the last 26 weeks of wages prior to the accident. There are maximum and minimum amounts available under this program. For 2014 accidents, the maximum is $843; the minimum is $225.
Permanent disability benefits
Permanent disability may be both partial and total in nature. Judges come to a decision regarding the degree of disability after reviewing expert medical reports. Someone who the workers’ compensation court finds as totally disabled is deemed no longer able to work and receives compensation as ordered by the judge. Partial permanent disability benefits are awarded according to a schedule outlining percentages of the degree of disability. Each year the Division of Workers Compensation provides a chart outlining the amount of money appropriate for each percentage of the disability.
Third party cases
You may have heard the term “third party case” and wondered how it applied to your case. If an accident was due to the negligence of parties other than your employer, you may also have a claim against them. For example, if you are involved in a car accident in the course of your employment, you may have a case against the other driver.
Seek competent legal help
People are sometimes reluctant to pursue workers’ compensation cases. They are worried they will lose their jobs. At Beninato & Matrafajlo, we want to make sure your work-related accident is treated properly. Employers and their insurance companies will not necessarily provide you with everything you are due. Contact us for a complimentary review of your case.