How To File A Workers Comp Claim In New Jersey
When you are hurt at work, things can feel very uncertain and confusing. Luckily, workers in New Jersey have the right to medical treatment and wages while they are out of work through the workers’ compensation system. This article will discuss what you need to do to begin the workers’ compensation process, including when you need to hire an attorney.
First Steps after Your Work Injury
1. Seek Medical Treatment
Your health is important, so you should seek medical attention as soon as you can after any work injury. If it is an emergency situation, you do not need to get authorization from your employer to go directly to a hospital or urgent care facility. However, if it is not an emergency, your employer should direct you where to go for treatment. If you choose your own doctor, your medical bills may not be paid.
2. Notify Your Employer
After seeing a doctor, you should notify your employer of the injury immediately. You must reach out to your supervisor or human resources as soon as you can after you realize you have been injured. Sometimes a worker can lose the right to benefits if they wait too long to notify their employer.
If you can, you should make that notification in writing or by email and keep a copy for yourself. Notification does not have to be in writing, but it could be useful evidence in your case later.
When Will I Get Paid?
If an authorized workers’ compensation doctor recommends you take time off work due to your injury or treatment, then you are entitled to something called Temporary Total Benefits.
Temporary Total Benefits are a portion of your normal paycheck that you are entitled to while you cannot work and are in active medical attention. It is typically around 70% of your weekly wages. You should receive those payments regularly while you are out of work, and most workers receive their payments within a few weeks.
Once your treatment is complete, you may also be entitled to benefits for the permanent changes you experience as a result of your injury. Typically, these benefits are paid as a result of an order from a Judge of Workers’ Compensation. An attorney can assist you gathering evidence of those permanent changes from medical experts and present the evidence to the Court. An attorney may also assist you in negotiating a settlement for you without the need to go to trial.
Once an order is entered by a judge, the insurance carrier has sixty (60) days to process the payment. That payment is not taxable under New Jersey state law.
When Should I Get an Attorney?
A workers’ compensation attorney is an important advocate for you after an injury. An attorney will fight to get you all available benefits and ensure you are treated fairly. You can talk to a workers’ compensation attorney as soon as you know you were injured at work. The attorney does not have to take formal action immediately, and they can advise you of what to expect as far as next steps in your claim.
You should absolutely talk to an attorney if your claim is denied by the employer. Sometimes employers or their insurance company will deny that the injury was caused by working and refuse to pay for rehab or time out of work. If that happens, you should contact an attorney immediately for assistance.
You may also consult with an attorney if you need additional therapy or are not being paid for the time a doctor keeps you out of work. An attorney can file a formal Claim Petition on your behalf with the New Jersey Workers’ Compensation Court, as well as motions for medical or other benefits.
Overall, if you are unsure of how to proceed after your work injury or you are concerned you are not receiving the benefits you deserve, you should consult with an attorney. The Division of Workers’ Compensation recommends you hire an attorney if you are pursuing a formal claim for workers’ compensation. The laws and procedure surrounding this type of law can be confusing. An attorney can guide you and advocate for you to make a difficult situation as straightforward as possible.