I work in New Jersey and I have been injured while working. What are my rights?
In the state of New Jersey a worker injured while in the course of employment is entitled to three very specific benefits. The insurance carrier must provide medical treatment. However, in New Jersey the carrier is given the right to direct that medical care. That is, the injured worker must go to the insurance carrier’s doctor. As long as the worker goes then the carrier is supposed to pay all medical costs. If the authorized doctor indicates that the injured worker requires treatment and is unable to return to work then the carrier must pay temporary disability benefits. In New Jersey, a worker will receive 70% of their gross weekly wage up to a maximum until such time as the doctor indicates they can return to work. In addition, if the doctor indicates the worker can return to work on modified duty, but the company does not have such work then the carrier must continue making the temporary disability payments. Finally, if the individual as a result of the injury has some permanent damage then they are entitled to receive an award for their disability.
What is important to guarantee these benefits? A worker must report the injury as it occurs. A delay in the reporting of the injury can cause a worker to lose their entitlement to these very specific but limited rights. In addition, a worker must follow the treatment recommendations of the doctor. Any time a worker fails to attend either a doctor’s appointment or a therapy visit, a carrier will use that to its advantage and will attempt to terminate benefits. Finally, an awareness of these rights is critical. Too often as a practicing workers compensation attorney, I see injured workers being represented by individuals who are not very familiar with the ins and outs of the New Jersey compensation system. The consequence could be that the injured workers gets denied benefits he or she should otherwise receive. Therefore, if you are injured while working make sure to consult an attorney who specializes in this very unique area of law.