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In a workers’ compensation claim, may I recover damages for pain and suffering?

In New Jersey, workers’ compensation is restricted to three kinds of payments: medical bills, temporary compensation and permanent disability. It does not permit payment for pain and suffering. However, in some instances, you can file another claim beyond the workers’ compensation claim, against an additional party, if that party is a person who could be held accountable for causing a work-related injury. This is called a third-party claim.

A third party is an individual besides the employer or co-worker who could be responsible for causing your injuries, usually due to their negligent behavior. The two most typical examples of a third party are the operator of another motor vehicle, when the employee is in an accident while driving for the employer’s benefit, and the manufacturer of a defective device, which produces an injury. In either case, an injured worker may recover damages for pain and suffering.

However, if the plaintiff recovers compensation from a third party, the employer’s workers’ compensation company will be able to receive an “offset,” or reimbursement, for any payments it makes toward the employees’ medical expenses, temporary or permanent disability.

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