Were you injured on the job while working in Burlington County, NJ? Are your injuries such that you require time off, but you are worried that your employer may not grant your request? Are your finances such that you cannot afford to take unpaid time off while you recover from your injuries? If these are the questions going through your mind, it may be worth taking a few moments to consider filing a Burlington County workers’ compensation claim.
Successfully filing a workers’ compensation claim means your employer will have to give you time off until you are able to return to work. Additionally, your employer (through their workers’ compensation insurance carrier) will pay for your medical expenses and provide you with ongoing income benefits, so you’ll still receive a check every two weeks.
At the Petrillo & Goldberg Law, we proudly represent injured workers, helping them obtain the compensation they need and deserve after a serious workplace accident. We have a 97 percent success rate among the Burlington County workers’ compensation cases we’ve handled, meaning your case will be in good hands at every step along the way.
How Common Are Workplace Injuries in New Jersey?
When most people get up to go to work, an injury is the furthest thing from their minds. However, in reality, workplace accidents are very common. According to the most recent data available from the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development, there were more than 147,000 workplace injuries in 2018. As a result of these accidents, nearly 35,000 injured workers applied for workers’ compensation benefits.
Among New Jersey workers specifically, the following industries have the highest rate of workplace injuries:
- Wholesale Trade
- Retail Trade
- Transportation and Warehousing
- Administrative and Support
- Healthcare and Social Assistance
- Accommodation and Food Services
Workplace fatalities, although less common than non-fatal injuries, also occur with startling frequency. Between 2000 and 2019, nearly 2,000 workers died in workplace accidents in New Jersey alone. Based on a recent study by the New Jersey Department of Health, more than 497,000 New Jersey workers, or about 13 percent of the working population, are employed in positions with a “high risk for occupational mortality.”
What Is Workers’ Compensation?
Workers’ compensation is a no-fault insurance-based system that provides benefits to employees who suffer work-related injuries or illnesses. Because the workers’ compensation system is not based on fault, injured workers do not need to prove that someone else was responsible for their injury. In fact, even those employees who were partially responsible for the accident resulting in their injuries can apply for and receive workers’ compensation benefits.
In New Jersey, there are four types of workers’ compensation benefits.
Medical benefits cover all medical expenses related to your injury or illness, provided the injury is work-related. Workers’ compensation medical benefits include
- Emergency room costs,
- Ambulance transport expenses,
- Follow-up visits to the doctor’s office,
- Physical or occupational therapy,
- Prescription medications and over-the-counter drugs,
- Assistive devices, such as wheelchairs and crutches, and
- Modifications to a worker’s home to accommodate their disability.
Temporary Total Disability Benefits
If your work-related injury or illness requires you to miss more than seven days of work, you may be eligible for Temporary Total Disability (TTD) benefits. TTD benefits equal 70 percent of your average weekly wage, up to a maximum of 75 percent of the Statewide Average Weekly Wage.
You will receive TTD benefits until you can go back to work or when you reach your Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI). MMI refers to the point where your will no longer benefit from additional treatment. If you exhaust your TTD benefits by reaching your MMI, you can then apply for Permanent Partial Disability benefits or Permanent Total Disability benefits.
Permanent Partial Disability benefits
If a workplace injury affects only certain parts of your body, you can obtain Permanent Partial Disability (PPD) benefits. The amount of PPD benefits depends on which part of the body was affected. New Jersey workers’ compensation law provides a “schedule” or list of body parts, including arms, hands, fingers, legs, feet, toes, eyes, ears, and teeth. If your injury affects another body part or bodily system, you may still qualify for PPD benefits under a non-scheduled loss.
Permanent Total Disability Benefits
If your workplace injury prevents you from returning to work, you may be eligible for Permanent Total Disability (PTD) benefits. Like TTD benefits, PTD benefits are payable at 70 percent of your average weekly wage and subject to a maximum of 75 percent of the Statewide Average Weekly Wage. You can obtain PTD benefits for up to 450 weeks; however, if, at the end of this period, you can show you cannot work, you may continue to receive benefits.
Families of workers who are killed in an on-the-job accident can obtain workers’ compensation death benefits to help them pay for some of the costs associated with the tragic loss of their loved ones. Death benefits are 70 percent of the deceased worker’s weekly wages, subject to a maximum. Families are also eligible for up to $3,500 in funeral expenses. Death benefits are available only to those family members who were dependent on the deceased worker for financial support.
Under New Jersey workers’ compensation laws, dependents include:
- Surviving spouses and dependent children who lived in the deceased worker’s home;
- Surviving spouses and dependent children who were not living in the deceased worker’s home but were financially dependent upon the deceased worker;
- Dependent children until they reach 18 years old or 23 years old if they are enrolled in school full time;
- Dependent children who are disabled; and
- Civil union partners.
What to Do After a Burlington County Workplace Accident
In the immediate aftermath of a workplace accident, most employees minimize their injuries and attempt to return to work as soon as possible. This is understandable, as employees do not want to be seen as difficult or “milking” the system. However, in the long run, ignoring a workplace injury only hurts the worker as well as the employer. Ignored injuries tend to get worse over time. Simply put, if you were hurt on the job, you need to take the time to recover from your injuries so you can get back to work and stay healthy.
If you are considering filing a Burlington County workers’ compensation claim, below are the steps you should follow.
Report the Injury to Your Employer
After a Burlington County work injury, the first thing you should do is to provide notice of the incident to your employer. While the workers’ compensation system doesn’t require you to prove your employer was negligent or at fault, it does require you to provide notice of your injury to your employer. Generally, it is best to notify your employer of an accident as soon as possible. However, in no event should you wait longer than 90 days, as doing so may result in you being ineligible for workers’ compensation benefits. If you were only able to give verbal notice to your employer before you left to seek medical treatment, that’s fine, but be sure to provide them with written notice as soon as possible.
Seek Appropriate Medical Care
You can’t possibly know how serious your injuries are until you get checked out by a doctor. As a general rule, your employer has the right to determine which doctor treats you. However, you also have a right to get a second opinion if you disagree with the employer-selected doctor.
File a Burlington County Workers’ Compensation Claim
In some cases, your employer may file a workers’ compensation claim on your behalf. However, if they do not, you should file a claim on your own as soon as possible. By law, employers have 21 days to file a claim for you, so you’ll need to wait at least that long to file a claim yourself.
Schedule a Free Consultation with a Burlington County Workers’ Comp Lawyer
Workers’ compensation claims may seem straightforward, and in some cases, they are. However, more often than not, either an employer or their workers’ compensation insurance company either denies an employee’s claim or offers benefits that are less than an employee deserves. This is where having the experienced Burlington County workers’ compensation attorneys at Petrillo & Goldberg Law on your side can make the difference. We routinely handle workers’ compensation claims on behalf of injured workers and can help you present a compelling case for the benefits you need and deserve.
What if Someone Else’s Negligence Caused the Accident?
Workers’ compensation claims do not require you to prove that someone else was responsible for your injuries. However, in the event another party was at fault for the accident leading to your injuries, you may be able to file a third-party workplace injury claim against the negligent party.
A third-party injury claim is a type of personal injury claim brought against someone other than your employer. Under New Jersey law, if your employer has workers’ compensation insurance, you cannot bring a personal injury case against them. However, nothing in the workers’ compensation laws prevents you from suing someone other than your employer.
Third-party injury claims can be very important because they open the door to damages that are not available through a workers’ compensation claim. For example, injured workers can recover non-economic damages through a third-party personal injury claim but not through a Burlington County workers’ compensation claim. Non-economic damages include:
- Pain and suffering,
- Loss of enjoyment of life,
- Emotional distress, and
- Loss of familial relationships.
Depending on the case, non-economic damages can be substantial. Thus, it is essential for injured workers to consult with an experienced Burlington County workers’ compensation lawyer before determining how to proceed with their case.
Were You Injured in a Burlington County Workplace Accident?
If you recently suffered serious injuries or developed an occupational illness while working in Burlington County, NJ, reach out to Petrillo & Goldberg Law. At Petrillo & Goldberg Law, we have assembled a team of knowledgeable Burlington County workers’ compensation attorneys dedicated to advocating on behalf of injured employees. We offer all prospective clients a free consultation, during which we will answer all of your questions, explain the workers’ compensation process, and provide you with an honest assessment of your case and what we can do to help. To learn more, call 856-486-4343 to schedule a free consultation. You can also reach us through our online contact form.