When do you have to report a work related injury in New Jersey?   No matter what anyone tells you, you have 90 days to report a specific accident and be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits in New Jersey.   Internal employer policies can be different, but this does not mean you can’t receive workers’ compensation benefits.   This means your employer can create its own policies and discipline you for failing to report an injury within its own internal deadlines.   

Basically, your worker’s compensation rights include medical treatment, temporary benefits and potentially a permanent disability award for the extent of your permanent impairment.   These are benefits paid by your employer’s workers’ compensation carrier.   Discipline for failing to follow an employer policy is a separate labor issue.   

As I indicated above, the workers’ compensation statute allows for 90 days to report an accident, but the language of the statute encourages injured workers’ to report an injury as soon as possible.   

N.J.S.A. 34:15-17 Notification of employer
Unless the employer shall have actual knowledge of the occurrence of the injury, or unless the employee, or someone on his behalf, or some of the dependents, or someone on their behalf, shall give notice thereof to the employer within 14 days of the occurrence of the injury, then no compensation shall be due until such notice is given or knowledge obtained.   If the notice is given, or knowledge obtained, within 30 days from the occurrence of the injury, no want failure or inaccuracy of a notice shall be a bar to obtaining compensation, unless the employer shall show that he was prejudiced by such want, defect and inaccuracy, and then only to the extent of such prejudice.  If the notice is given, or the knowledge obtained within 90 days , and if the employee, or other beneficiary shall show that his failure to give prior notice was due to his mistake, inadvertence, ignorance of fact or law, or inability, or to the fraud, misrepresentation or deceit of another person, or to any other reasonable cause or excuse, then the compensation may be allowed, unless, and then to the extent only that the employer shall show that he was prejudiced by failure to receive such notice.   Unless knowledge be obtained, or notice given, within 90 days after the occurrence of the injury, no compensation shall be allowed.

The key thing to take away from the worker’s compensation statute is that if you do not report an injury within 90 days, you cannot receive workers’ compensation benefits.   There is really no way around this.   It creates three deadlines for reporting injuries: 14 days, 30 days, and finally 90 days.   What this means, is the earlier you report an injury, the better.    

How do you protect yourself?   The best course of action is to report all accidents and injuries when they happen whether or not you need immediate medical assistance.   You will be better off reporting an injury when it happens and advising your supervisor that you’d like to wait and see how it feels over the next couple of days.  When in doubt, report it and see how you feel over the next few days.    

In another blog post, I discuss the difference between the worker’s compensation statute and the accident reporting requirements of individual employers. 

James Creegan is a Shareholder in Stark & Stark’s Lawrenceville, New Jersey office concentrating his practice in Workers’ Compensation law. For questions, or to schedule a free consultaiton with Mr. Creegan, please contact him here.