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How can workers’ compensation in New Jersey disqualify an employee who is at fault for a work-related accident?

In New Jersey, workers’ compensation is the exclusive remedy for employees who suffer injuries or develop an illness from a workplace or work-related accident. An employee must be in the course of their employment when the accident occurs for the injury to be work-related. State law states that employment begins when the employee arrives at the place of work and ends when leaving the workplace. Therefore, if the job duties require the employee to travel, an accident that happens while traveling in the course of employment is work-related and subject to the state workers’ compensation laws and processes.

Workers’ compensation is no-fault insurance coverage provided by employers to provide wage and disability benefits to the injured or ill employees. To seek compensation, the employee submits a claim to the employer for approval or denial. Upon approval of the claim, the insurance provider pays for the employee’s medical bills, treatment and wage compensation while out of work. If the treating physician diagnoses the employee with a temporary or permanent disability, the employee receives worker’s compensation disability benefits for the period stated in the New Jersey workers’ compensation laws.

An employee may have a work-relation accident and injury that falls under workers’ compensation and still disqualifies for the insurance benefits. Under state law, an employee is ineligible for worker’s compensation if the injury or illness arises from an accident caused by the employee’s willful negligence. The four actions that constitute willful negligence are 1) deliberate acts or omissions; 2) conduct recklessly indifferent to safety; 3) intoxication, which caused the employee’s injury; or 4) illegal use of a controlled substance. When the employee files an informal or formal claim with the New Jersey Division of Workers’ Compensation, the employer can assert the employee’s willful negligence as a defense to deny the workers’ compensation claim. The employer has the burden of proving the employer’s negligence.

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