Workers Compensation FAQs
Daniel Santarsiero, Esq. Answers Some of the Most Frequently Asked Questions about Workers’ Comp in the State of New Jersey
Table of Contents
- General FAQs
- Coverage FAQs
- How-To FAQs
- Payment FAQs
- Unemployment, Social Security, and Retirement-Related FAQs
How much does it cost to hire a workers’ compensation lawyer?
Can I collect additional compensation for my work injury outside of workers’ comp?
Workers’ compensation is a system established by state law that provides financial benefits to employees who are injured or suffer an illness that occurs in the course and scope of the employee’s work.
Workers’ compensation is considered a “no-fault” system, meaning that an employee does not need to prove that their injury or illness was caused by their employer. Instead, an employee is entitled to workers’ comp benefits from their employer simply because they have suffered a work-related injury or illness.
In New Jersey, a worker can receive temporary wage replacement benefits for up to 400 weeks, although benefits can be terminated once a worker has fully recovered. An employee who sustained a partial permanent disability may receive benefits for up to 600 weeks, depending on the nature of the disability. Permanent total disability benefits can continue indefinitely so long as the employee remains permanently and totally disabled.
Under the workers’ compensation law, filing for workers’ comp is normally an employee’s sole legal recourse against their employer, as the employee has to give up the right to pursue a personal injury claim in exchange for the guarantee of financial benefits under workers’ comp. However, under very limited circumstances, an injured worker may be entitled to pursue a personal injury claim against their employer. A worker who is injured because of the negligence of a third party can also pursue a personal injury claim against that party. But an employer and its workers’ comp insurer may be entitled to reimbursement of paid benefits from any third-party personal injury claim compensation.
Workers’ compensation can provide injured or ill employees with certain financial benefits. First, workers’ comp will pay for all reasonable and necessary medical treatment and rehabilitation for a work-related injury or illness. If a worker cannot work during their recovery, workers’ comp can also provide partial replacement of the worker’s wages. Workers’ comp also provides financial payments when a work injury or illness causes permanent disability to an employee. Workers’ compensation also provides benefits to workers who suffer disfigurement due to scarring. Finally, workers’ comp can also provide financial payments to the family of a worker who passes away due to a work-related injury or illness.
Workers’ compensation does not provide financial benefits for non-economic losses that an employee may suffer due to a work-related injury or illness, such as physical pain, emotional trauma or distress, loss of life expectancy, or loss of enjoyment or quality of life due to disabilities.
In New Jersey, you must notify your employer of your work injury or illness. Typically, you are expected to give notice within 14 days of your injury or the onset of your illness, but notice must be given no later than 90 days. Your employer and its insurer will then file a notice of claim with the New Jersey Division of Workers’ Compensation. If your employer does not file the claim, or if you are not receiving the full benefits you believe you are entitled to, you have up to two years from your injury or the onset of your illness to file a claim with the division to pursue an informal or formal hearing with the division. You must also file a claim petition to receive a money award for any permanent injury or disability.
Just about all New Jersey employers are required to provide workers’ compensation benefits for their employees when they suffer work-related injuries or illnesses. Employers may either pay workers’ comp benefits directly, or they may purchase insurance to cover workers’ compensation claims.
Many employers who are required by state law to provide workers’ compensation choose to fulfill their obligation by purchasing workers’ compensation insurance. A workers’ compensation insurance policy means that the insurer will be responsible for covering the cost of any benefits that must be paid to an injured or ill worker.
In addition to paying for all reasonable and necessary medical treatment, workers’ comp pay may include weekly payments of 70 percent of a worker’s average weekly wage (subject to minimums and maximums set forth by law), or 70 percent of the difference between the worker’s average weekly wage and the reduced income they are earning while recovering from their injury or illness. These payments may continue indefinitely if a worker is permanently disabled from performing any work. A worker who sustains a permanent partial disability is also entitled to payments based on the affected body part(s) and the severity of the disability.
If you miss work due to a work injury or illness, you may begin to receive workers’ compensation payments after missing a total of seven days from work due to your injury or illness. But you are entitled to payment for missed work beginning from the date you started missing work, plus interest.
Under New Jersey law, workers’ compensation benefits are not subject to state taxes. Workers’ comp benefits are also tax-free under federal law.
Unemployment, Social Security, and Retirement-Related FAQs
Workers’ compensation benefits are intended to be paid to a worker who has suffered a work-related injury or illness but has the potential to recover and return to work. Conversely, unemployment benefits are intended for employees who are involuntarily separated from their job for a non-fault-related reason.
While you cannot collect unemployment and workers’ comp benefits at the same time, you may be able to file a claim for unemployment benefits (if you have been terminated from your job for an eligible reason) after you have fully recovered from a work injury or illness and no longer receive workers’ comp benefits.
Yes. New Jersey is considered a “reverse offset” state. Unlike most other states where workers’ comp benefits may be reduced to the extent that a disabled worker is also receiving Social Security disability benefits, in New Jersey workers’ comp benefits are used to offset the Social Security disability benefits that a worker would receive. Although New Jersey law does not consider workers’ comp settlements to be compensation benefits, the Social Security Administration does offset settlements against disability benefit payments.
If you retire while on workers’ compensation, you may still be entitled to certain workers’ comp benefits. For example, workers’ comp will continue to pay for all reasonable and necessary medical treatment. While temporary wage replacement will cease if you retire, since retirement means you have no intention of returning to work, you are still able to collect permanent disability benefit payments while retired.