Before workers’ compensation laws were enacted, injured workers had little protections or rights if they were injured in a workplace accident or suffered from an occupational disease. If a worker was hurt; for example, if a machine cut off their finger or their arm, or if they fell through an attic, or if they inhaled dirt when a trench collapsed on them, it would be the worker against their employer, and since businesses usually have more resources to fight lawsuits, workers would be at a big disadvantage.
Fortunately, our legal system recognized these cracks and decided to enact workers’ compensation laws throughout the United States. Today, workers’ compensation is a no-fault system, meaning workers can collect benefits regardless of who was to blame for the accident. But, by filing a workers’ compensation claim, workers are barred from filing a separate lawsuit against their employer. In some cases though, workers can file third party lawsuits against other liable parties that are not their employers.
Filing a Claim in New Jersey
Workers’ compensation provides the following benefits to injured workers who have suffered from a work-related accident or an occupational disease: medical benefits, temporary total benefits, permanent partial benefits, and permanent total benefits.
“What if the employee dies?” In that case, the decedent’s surviving family members (e.g. spouse and children) may be able to receive what are called “death benefits.”
“Am I guaranteed to receive workers’ compensation since it’s a no-fault system?” Workers’ compensation is not automatically awarded in all claims. A workers’ compensation claim can be denied under the following circumstances:
- The worker was under the influence of alcohol or drugs at the time of the accident.
- The worker intentionally tried to harm someone else or themselves; for example, the worker punched a co-worker in the face.
- The injury wasn’t really work-related and occurred during the employee’s personal time away from work.
If you have been injured on the job, inform your employer immediately. You’ll need to verbally or in writing notify your manager, boss or supervisor – anyone with authority over you. If you need to see a doctor, you should submit a request with your employer right away because under New Jersey law, your employer can select which doctors treat you for your work-related injuries.