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New Jersey Workers' Compensation Lawyer

A Workplace Injury can Have Severe Consequences & Our Highly Skilled NJ Workers' Compensation Attorneys Will Ensure That Your Rights are Fully Protected

Thousands of workers are injured in New Jersey every year during the course of their employment. Whether the workplace injury is to a roofer, framer or other construction worker, police officer, firemen, factory employee or someone engaged in another form of employment, the NJ workers' compensation system is designed to provide relief on a no fault basis. An injured employee is entitled to receive all necessary medical treatment, lost income benefits and a permanency award for the loss of body function and disability resulting from from a back, neck, shoulder, knee, head or other injury. If a workplace accident results in an employee being killed, death and dependency benefits are recoverable. An employee injured at work may also be eligible to recover compensation as the result of a third party claim.

A New Jersey Workers' Compensation Lawyer at the Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall is here to ensure that you recover each and every one of these benefits. The personal injury team at the firm is led by Dan Santarsiero, an accomplished compensation attorney who has been practicing in the workers' compensation court in Monmouth County, Ocean County, Middlesex County, Union County, Hudson County and those throughout the state for more than 25 years. His work in this area of law is so extensive that he is a certified civil trial attorney, a distinction held by less than two percent of the attorneys in the state. If you would like to speak to Dan about a New Jersey workers' compensation injury claim, contact our law firm for an immediate free consultation. You should know that there is no fee charged by our compensation lawyers unless a recovery is made on your behalf.

Medical Treatment

New Jersey law affords an injured work the benefit of coverage for all reasonable and necessary medical treatment. This coverage extends not only to emergency treatment but physical therapy, counseling services, surgical care and any other services needed to achieve maximum medical improvement. The problem is that a large percentage of employers attempt to minimize the amount of medical treatment provided to a worker and this is a major reason why having a workers' compensation lawyer to fight for you is so important.

Lost Income Benefits

One of the biggest concerns for an injured worker is how they will survive financially if they are out of work. Thankfully, the workers' compensation law provides for lost income benefits, also referred to as temporary disability benefits, during the period that an employee is unable to perform his/her job as the result of a workplace injury. Unfortunately, insurance companies have a knack for getting injured workers back to duty prematurely so it is important to enlist an attorney with a track record of success in dealing with aggressive carriers like Dan Santarsiero.

Permanent Disability Award

Although there is no pain and suffering awarded in New Jersey workers' compensation cases, there is compensation for permanent partial disability resulting from a fall, motor vehicle collision, being struck by an object, or other workplace accident. The amount awarded is based on the percentage of disability sustained to the employee’s leg, arm or in terms of partial total disability (i.e. where the injury is to the neck, lower back, shoulder, head, lungs or heart). Dan is an experienced workers' compensation attorney who knows how to achieve the highest and best percentage of disability despite efforts from workers' compensation insurers to the contrary.

Death & Dependency Benefits

Workplace fatalities are probably the most life altering variety of workers' compensation claim handled by our NJ workers' compensation firm. The aftermath of a death can turn life of a dependant spouse or child upside down. Our attorneys are here to provide the guidance and support needed to families who have been the victims of an on the job death. We ensure that all medical, income, funeral and dependency benefits are fully collected so that the impact of an unexpected death does not get unnecessarily worse.

Third Party Claims

The are many instances where an employee will have not only a workers' compensation claim but also the ability to seek compensation from a third party who contributed in causing his or her injury. This is customarily referred to as a third party claim and allows an injured worker to recover classic personal injury damages, including pain and suffering resulting from an workplace accident. It is therefore very important to hire an who is not only familiar with the Workers’ Compensation system but also the Superior Court where third party claims are prosecuted. Dan has vast experience dealing in both forums.

Occupational Exposure & Repetitive Stress Injuries

A wide spectrum of injuries can result in workers' compensation benefits. The first category of compensable injuries are those resulting from a single traumatic event such as an automobile crash, slip and fall, lifting or bending. A workers' compensation claim can also result from injuries that occurred over a long period of time rather than a single accident or occurrence. This variety of workers' compensation case is referred to as an occupational exposure claim or repetitive stress injury.

Occupations Frequently Encountered in Workers' Compensation Court

There are certain occupations that have a higher incident of workers' compensation claims than others. Members of the construction trades, especially those working at significant heights (e.g. roofer, framer, sider, etc.) or with dangerous instrumentalities such as heavy equipment (e.g. excavator, paving, forklift, etc.) are probably at the top of this list. Other occupations with a high risk of workplace injury are police officers, firemen and prison guards. The lawyers at our firm have successfully represented workers in just about every type of employment you can image and are ready to assist you irrespective of the nature of your occupation.

Common Workers' Compensation Injuries

The list of injuries that can result in a workers' compensation claim is virtually endless. The largest block of claims involve some form of orthopedic injury including, but not limited to, fractures, sprains and trauma to the lower back, neck, shoulder, knee, arm or other skeletal component. There are also many NJ compensation cases that involve some variety of brain injury whether it be post-concussion syndrome, hematoma or another issue. Whether you sustained an injury falling within these categories or something different such as loss of a limb, sight, hearing or pulmonary function, the compensation laws allow for recovery of workers' compensation benefits.

Contact Our Workers' Compensation Attorneys for the Help You Deserve

At the Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall located in Freehold, Hackensack, Jersey City, New Brunswick, Newark, Paterson, Somerville, Toms River, and Trenton, New Jersey, our New Jersey workers' compensation lawyer Daniel Santarsiero and his staff are committed to helping employees injured on the job receive the medical treatment, income benefits and permanency award that they are entitled to under the law. If you have been injured in a workplace accident it is important to have a lawyer review your claim to see that you are being treated fairly and to ensure that you receive full compensation for your injury claim. We encourage you to call us anytime 24/7 for the sound legal guidance you deserve. Initial consultations are always free of charge so do not hesitate to contact us at your convenience.

Injuries Must Arise Out of the Course of Employment to Result in Compensation

“Arising out of or in the course of employment” are the magic words that were set up by our lawmakers when the Workers’ Compensation Act was first established over a hundred years ago. There are two requirements for workplace accident to arise during the course of employment. First, the injury must happen while the employee is performing his work duties. The second requirement for an injury to be compensable is the existence of a causal relationship between an injury and employment. The but for test is often employed in this context; namely, would the injury have been sustained but for the workers employment? The coming and going rule often crops up in this context. This principle provides that an employee is not acting in the course of employment when he or she is coming or going to the workplace. An accident driving to or from work typically falls outside the workers compensation system but there are exceptions in this regard. For example, an employer provided parking lot is considered an extension of the workplace so an injury sustained on the related property is compensable. The result is that a slip and fall that occurs in the parking lot or car accident on the property will usually fall within the ambit of a valid workers compensation claim.

The main point to keep in mind if you believe you may have an issue concerning your injury arising during the course of employment is that the law interprets this principle broadly. Oftentimes you’ll see strange fact patterns decided in an injured worker’s favor to enable the Workers’ Compensation Act to protect as many people as it was originally intended to protect. Representation by a savvy workers compensation attorney is important to your establishing compensability. The lawyers at our firm can thoroughly and skillfully protect your interests.

Firemans team during firefighting
NJ Workers’ Compensation Benefits Explained

The Workers’ Compensation Act provides coverage for necessary medical care, temporary disability income benefits and permanent disability. The headings that follow discuss each of these subjects in more detail. You are encouraged to call our office at (800) 999-0897 if you have any questions or need assistance with a workers' compensation claim.

Medical Treatment

In a New Jersey Workers’ Compensation case, there are three benefits. Each of those benefits involves a lot of different things involved in each one, so let’s unpack each one. The first benefit is you’re entitled to have all of your medical care paid for by the Workers’ Compensation insurance company. That means there’s no copayment and no deductible. Whatever medical care is required, the Workers’ Compensation insurance company is required to provide it. The drawback to this system is that the Workers’ Compensation insurance company does get to select the doctor or the doctors who are treating the injured worker. In other words in exchange for having healthcare provided to the injured worker, the injured worker gives up the right to select the doctor of his or her choosing.

Wage Replacement Benefits

The second benefit provided to an injured worker is wage replacement benefits. These benefits are known in the law as total temporary disability benefits. Lawyers who handle these types of claims commonly refer to that type of benefit as TTD. T for total, T for temporary, D for disability. The law requires that someone who was unable to work as a result of a work related accident, or who was recuperating from an authorized medical procedure that was required due to a work related injury, is entitled to receive total temporary disability benefits. Those benefits are 70% of that person’s gross weekly wage. That’s gross weekly wage. In other words, before taxes are taken out. There are certain exceptions to that rule. There are certain maximums and certain minimums, but by and large, this system is a 70% payment based upon that person’s gross weekly wage, and that’s a weekly payment.

Permanency Award

The third benefit provided is an award for the permanent disability that result from a work related accident. Once a worker has completed his or her medical treatment and is discharged by the treating doctor(s), that person is then evaluated so that his or her disability rating can be determined. Each disability rating corresponds to a dollar amount, based on the body part or system involved and the percentage of disability. The general rule regarding such awards is that less severe injuries are awarded less significant sums of money and more significant injuries are awarded more significant sums of money. Additionally, there are special rules involving persons with prior injuries or limitations. All in all, the selection of the right attorney is extremely important regarding this type of benefit as no two injuries are alike and similar injuries may impact different workers differently.

Construction worker in construction site
Do I Have an Injury That is Covered by Workers’ Compensation?

A wide spectrum of injuries can result in workers’ compensation benefits. The first category of compensable injuries are those resulting from a single traumatic event such as an automobile crash, slip and fall, lifting or bending. A workers’ compensation claim can also result from injuries that occurred over a long period of time rather than a single accident or occurrence.

Occupational Exposure Cases

Non-accident cases are commonly referred to as occupational exposure cases. Occupational exposure cases can involve body parts such as necks and backs and shoulders and knees from repetitive bending or kneeling, or repetitive lifting, or repetitive carrying, or repetitive climbing. But they also can involve body systems, such as the respiratory system where someone may be in an environment where they’re continually breathing in chemicals or other harmful substances, and as a result develop some sort of lung dysfunction. Or even worse, some sort of a disease process.

Similarly, injuries to other body systems are compensable. Such systems include neurological (or nerve) problems, psychiatric problems, pulmonary problems involving the lungs, cardiac problems involving the heart, or even the development of disease, such as cancer, emphysema, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. All of these ailments are recognized by the workers’ compensation system.

Injuries Resulting in Total Disability

There is a special area of the workers’ compensation system that deals with seriously injured workers. Those are injuries which result in either total disability or death. Total disability in the workers’ compensation system tends to have a different meaning from what people traditionally associate with this term. In this context, the term refers to someone who has been rendered unable to resume work at any time. For example, a factory worker who sustains a significant work injury rendering him incapable of doing his job yet still able to work three or four hours a week as a clerk or in some other context, would not be permanently disabled for purposes of worker compensation. Someone must be injured to a degree that makes them unable to continue to work in any job in order to be awarded total disability.

The benefits that are provided to a totally disabled person under the Workers’ Compensation system in New Jersey are lifetime benefits. And what I mean by that is if you are found to be totally (100%) disabled, you’re entitled to get a weekly amount for the rest of your life, depending on the amount of wages that you had earned during the course of your employment. For more information on permanent disability claims, click here.

Death (Dependency) Cases

An unfortunate fact of life in this country is that sometimes a work related accident can take a loved one’s life. In New Jersey, the families of such workers are protected. Those workers who die as a result of a work accident are entitled to have their families and their dependents compensated for such a horrible loss. Those types of claims are referred to as dependency claims and there are special rules associated with bringing a dependency action. But if the injured worker died as a result of his or her work injuries and it can be shown that they have family members or other persons who are dependent upon them for support, those family members and dependents are entitled to be protected. In New Jersey, the law recognizes spouses and minor children as automatically qualifying for dependency benefits. Dependency benefits are weekly payments that are based in part upon the prior wage history of the deceased worker.

There are also other types of persons who can qualify as a dependent, other than spouses and minor children. So if a deceased worker had a distant relative who was dependent on that worker, that dependent would be entitled to compensation for an extended period of time as well. Those payments also will be weekly payments that will correspond to the amount of money that had been earned by that worker prior to his or her death. For more information regarding this death and dependency claims read more.

Second Injury Fund for Workers with Pre-existing Disabilities

There’s also a very interesting area of the law which allows for someone to be found totally disabled when the injuries that were sustained at work combined with a certain pre-existing injury lead to that result. That’s called the Second Injury Fund. And I’d like to talk a little bit about the history of that fund.

Prior to the enactment of the Second Injury Fund provision in the Workers’ Compensation system, it was common for workers to suffer serious injuries and then need to go back into the workforce. And since we’re talking about 40, 50, and 60 years ago, one has to remember that the workforce was a lot different than it is now. Most of the jobs that existed back then involved physical labor, very physically demanding jobs, in places that weren’t always the safest work sites. New Jersey in the early and mid 1900’s was very industrial. Workers were hurt in factories, canneries, construction sites, assembly-line plants, smelting plants, and quarries. Workers in all those types of environments would often times get hurt, partly due to the nature of those jobs and partly due to the fact that safety systems weren’t as effective as they are now.

So you would oftentimes have somebody who suffered an injury while on the job, received medical treatment, and as a result of that injury had some sort of residual physical problem. That person would then need to go back to work to try to support his or her family. They would go to a different employer, and that different employer would review that person’s resume, take him in for an interview, and notice that the worker had some sort of pre-existing disability.

So what was happening is you had a very large pool of seriously hurt workers who still needed to work to support themselves and their families, but could not find jobs because other employers would look at that person and say, “Hey, I think Mr. Smith is qualified to do this job, but I can see from our interview that he has a severe limp on one side. And I know it’s only a matter of time if he’s doing this physically demanding job that he’s going to suffer a different injury, and I don’t want to be the employer that ends up having to pay total disability benefits to this worker for the rest of his or her life.”

So our lawmakers realized that this was an area that needed to be corrected and set up the Second Injury Fund. That’s a special department of the state that deals with just those types of circumstances, where you have someone who has a pre-existing problem, it could be a pre-existing work injury, or it could be something that’s totally unrelated to a work injury. For instance you can have someone that has a pre-existing heart condition, or a pre-existing history of diabetes or high blood pressure, and as a result of a new work-related accident is unable to work. So you have a new work accident involving someone’s shoulder that requires surgery, but due to the fact that the person already had a pre-existing back problem, and already had been a surgical candidate for that pre-existing back problem, now has two injured body parts together making that person totally disabled. In that type of circumstance, the Second Injury Fund, that special department in the state, would contribute toward any total disability payments, thus making it more palatable for New Jersey employers to hire previously injured workers and be more willing to agree to pay total disability benefits in the event that a worker does suffer a subsequent injury that leads to total disability.

Medical Treatment

In a New Jersey Workers’ Compensation case, there are three benefits. Each of those benefits involves a lot of different things involved in each one, so let’s unpack each one. The first benefit is you’re entitled to have all of your medical care paid for by the Workers’ Compensation insurance company. That means there’s no copayment and no deductible. Whatever medical care is required, the Workers’ Compensation insurance company is required to provide it. The drawback to this system is that the Workers’ Compensation insurance company does get to select the doctor or the doctors who are treating the injured worker. In other words in exchange for having healthcare provided to the injured worker, the injured worker gives up the right to select the doctor of his or her choosing.

Wage Replacement Benefits

The second benefit provided to an injured worker is wage replacement benefits. These benefits are known in the law as total temporary disability benefits. Lawyers who handle these types of claims commonly refer to that type of benefit as TTD. T for total, T for temporary, D for disability. The law requires that someone who was unable to work as a result of a work related accident, or who was recuperating from an authorized medical procedure that was required due to a work related injury, is entitled to receive total temporary disability benefits. Those benefits are 70% of that person’s gross weekly wage. That’s gross weekly wage. In other words, before taxes are taken out. There are certain exceptions to that rule. There are certain maximums and certain minimums, but by and large, this system is a 70% payment based upon that person’s gross weekly wage, and that’s a weekly payment.

Permancy Award

The third benefit provided is an award for the permanent disability that result from a work related accident. Once a worker has completed his or her medical treatment and is discharged by the treating doctor(s), that person is then evaluated so that his or her disability rating can be determined. Each disability rating corresponds to a dollar amount, based on the body part or system involved and the percentage of disability. The general rule regarding such awards is that less severe injuries are awarded less significant sums of money and more significant injuries are awarded more significant sums of money. Additionally, there are special rules involving persons with prior injuries or limitations. All in all, the selection of the right attorney is extremely important regarding this type of benefit as no two injuries are alike and similar injuries may impact different workers differently.

American style truck on freeway pulling load
Are There Some Jobs That Result in Workers’ Compensation Cases More Than Others?

There are certain occupations in the state that lead to more frequent claims. The construction trades are probably top of the list when it comes to dangerous occupations. People who work at heights such as roofers and siders often suffer significant injuries when accidents happen. People who are involved in operating heavy equipment oftentimes have significant injuries when they’re involved in accidents. People who are involved in excavations where they’re working below the ground oftentimes suffer serious injuries when they’re involved in accidents. Finally, prison and jail guards, due to their dangerous surroundings, also oftentimes suffer serious injuries.

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Additionally, people whose livelihood depends on them using their car or truck work vehicle frequently also suffer significant injuries when involved in accidents. For instance, police officers who are required to drive as part of their daily routine are much more likely to be involved in a car crash than someone who sits at a desk for a normal eight-hour work shift.

Health care workers (such as nursing home workers, home health aides, and hospital nurses) oftentimes suffer serious injuries due to the physical nature of their job. Car mechanics and others in the service industries also oftentimes suffer serious injuries as a result of the nature of their job duties.

Undocumented Workers. You may have an employee who thought legitimately that he or she was an on-the-books employee and legitimately thought that the employer officially categorized him or her as an employee. Only after some sort of claim occurs do they realize that they were not on the books. It doesn’t matter. That’s the employer’s problem to deal with, not the injured worker.

Similarly, even if the injured worker was off the books and knew that he or she was off the books, that too is the employer’s problem. It’s not the injured worker’s problem. Those employees are entitled to all the same types of benefits and all the same remedies which we have been discussing. Just as if they had been working on the books for 45 years with the same employer.

Multi-ethnic team of workers wearing overalls and protective helmets using lathe in order to machine workpiece
Is It Possible for Me to Sue a Third Party in Addition to Filing a Workers’ Compensation Petition?

The are many instances where an employee will have not only a workers’ compensation claim but also the ability to seek compensation from a third party who contributed in causing his or her injury. This is customarily referred to as a third party claim and allows that worker to recover classic personal injury damages, including pain and suffering resulting from an workplace accident.

Example #1

A common example of where third party claims occur is a construction accident. There are often many subcontractors that work on a job site and when one of those entities causes or contributes to an accident that results in injury to an employee of a different company, there is the potential for recovery in a third party claim. The workers' compensation bar only protects the employer so the actions of a third party like another subcontractor at the job site, would not be protected. The result is the possibility of recovery for pain and suffering, something not available in the workers' compensation court, from the responsible third party. Another consideration in this example is the fact that a general contractor has responsibility for safety of the entire job site. If the employee of a subcontractor is injured because of a safety deficiency at the site, a potential third party claim exists against the general contractor.

Example #2

Another example to help people understand would be a car crash case. For instance, I could be driving to the courthouse tomorrow morning. While I’m on my way there, I stop at a red light. There may be some person behind me who decides that it’s more important to text and drive than to simply pay attention to the road. As a result, that person isn’t looking up and smashes into the back of my car. I would have two cases: I have case against my employer, because I was in the course of my employment driving to the courthouse. That would the workers' compensation case. I would also have a case against the person who wasn’t paying attention and was texting and driving and that would be a third party case outside of the Workers’ Compensation system. You would have two different cases in this scenario, namely, a workers' compensation claim and third party claim.

As indicated, these non workers’ compensation cases are called third party cases, because the other person or company involved is not the employer. The law in New Jersey specifically allows an injured worker to have both types of cases at the same time. Because of the special circumstances involved in such a situation where you have two different cases involving the same set of facts that are going on at the same time, it’s very important to have an attorney who is familiar not only with the workers' compensation system, but to also make sure that attorney is also a civil trial attorney who is familiar with the separate court system which is outside the specialized workers' compensation court system.

Representative Cases
Our client, a nurse at a long-term care center, suffered a work-related herniated disc injury in her back. As a result of her pre-existing medical condition and her herniated disc, the court found that the client was totally disabled and awarded the client lifetime weekly disability payments and medical coverage for life.
Our client, a bank teller at a national bank, suffered carpal tunnel syndrome as result of the nature of her job. During her medical treatment, she aggravated a pre-existing low back injury. As a result of the combination of her injuries, the court found that she was totally disabled and awarded lifetime weekly disability payments and medical coverage for life.
Our client, a customer service worker at a national restaurant chain, was at work when the restaurant was robbed. As a result, the client developed post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). As a result of our firm’s efforts, the court awarded the client four hundred (400) weeks of wage replacement benefits and likewise found that the client was totally disabled enabling her to receive lifetime weekly disability payments and medical coverage for life.
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If you have been injured in a workplace accident it is important to have a lawyer review your claim to see that you are being treated fairly and to ensure that you receive full compensation for your injury claim. Please call (800) 999-0897 or e-mail our office to arrange a free consultation.

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