The New Jersey Workers’ Compensation Fraud Statute, N.J.S.A. 34:15-57.4, is alive and well in the Division of Workers’ Compensation as it applies to injured workers. Attorneys for workers’ compensation carriers are making fraud arguments often, and in some cases being successful in terminating workers’ benefits. Yet injured workers do not routinely file fraud claims against employers and/or their insurance carriers, who routinely and improperly deny benefits to injured workers.  However in this update to an article I wrote previously, I can now happily report that the New Jersey Workers’ Compensation Statute applies to both employees and employers.

Continue Reading Workers Compensation and Fraud Update – the Statute Applies to the Employee and the Employer Alike

Attention Corrections and Juvenile Justice Officers

It appears that there is erroneous information concerning the present right of such Officers to receive SLI benefits rather than Workers’ Compensation Temporary disability benefits (70% of salary subject to a cap) when injured by direct contact with inmates in the performance of an officer’s duties.

Unfortunately, no such SLI benefits currently exist and those who say it does are incorrect. While there is proposed legislation to reinstate the SLI program in these situations, it is not yet an actual law.

Continue Reading Important Update on SLI Benefits

New Jersey workers’ compensation benefits are governed under N.J.S.A. 34:15 et seq. There are three benefits you are entitled to when you get hurt at work in New Jersey: payment of medical bills, payment of temporary disability benefits or wage replacement and payment of an award of permanent disability. I will address each of these in a series of blogs.

This is the third in a series of three blogs. The previous blogs can be found here: Part 1, Part 2.

This blog will focus on the benefit known as permanent partial disability. After medical treatment has been provided and the authorized doctor tells you there is nothing more he can do, you may be entitled to a monetary award even if you have returned to work full duty (see prior blogs). This benefit is payable if the injury has a permanent impact on your life.

Continue Reading New Jersey Workers’ Compensation Benefits Unraveled – Part 3

New Jersey workers’ compensation benefits are governed under N.J.S.A. 34:15, et seq. There are three benefits you are entitled to when you get hurt at work in New Jersey: payment of medical bills, payment of temporary disability benefits or wage replacement and payment of an award of permanent disability. I will address each of these in a series of blogs.

This is the second in a series of three blogs. Blog one can be read here: Part 1.

When you are hurt at work and the authorized doctor (see previous blog) indicates that you must be out of work to recover from your injury, you may be entitled to receive a portion of your wages. The law in New Jersey entitles you to 70% of your gross weekly wage. However, if you earn in excess of $1,221.50 per week, you can never receive more than $855.00 per week.

Continue Reading New Jersey Workers’ Compensation Benefits Unraveled – Part 2

New Jersey workers’ compensation benefits are governed under N.J.S.A. 34:15 et seq. There are three benefits you are entitled to when you get hurt at work in New Jersey: payment of medical bills, payment of temporary disability benefits or wage replacement and payment of an award of permanent disability. I will address each of these in a series of blogs.

This is the first in a series of three blogs. With regard to the payment of medical bills, the statute requires the employer to provide medical treatment that is reasonable, necessary and related to your accident and that is designed to cure your condition. You are NOT permitted to seek treatment with your primary care doctor or specialist without the prior consent and approval of your employer and their workers’ compensation carrier. Your employer is also obligated to pay 100% of the bills. There are no deductibles, co-pays, or out of pocket expenses, including prescription medications and any other medical devices prescribed by the authorized doctor. Absent any obvious broken bones or other critical medical conditions, your treatment will generally begin with conservative treatment which might include rest and prescription medications. If your symptoms do not improve, you may be referred for diagnostic tests to help the physician arrive at a diagnosis. You may also be referred for physical therapy to help alleviate your symptoms. If that fails, you may then be referred to a specialist. This process could take weeks or months.

At some point in the process the authorized doctors will indicate that your condition is as good as it is going to get or maximum medical improvement. When this happens, the carrier’s obligation to you ends, even if you are not back to normal. You are not entitled to additional treatment that is not designed to cure your condition, even if that treatment might make you feel better. However, there are some limited circumstances under which you may be eligible for ongoing medical care and you should seek legal advice to determine if you fall within those exceptions. If you are still having complaints and problems, you will then be entitled to additional benefits which will be address in this blog series. At Stark & Stark, our experienced attorneys and legal staff can help you understand your rights. Please call us to schedule your free, no obligation consultation.

Generally, petitions filed by injured workers for occupational disease claims are barred if they are not filed within two years of the date the injured worker discovered the nature of the disability and it relationship to employment. This is addressed in the workers’ compensation law under N.J.S.A. 34:15-34.

Unlike an accident, which has a specific date, the precise onset of an occupational disease may be hard to determine. Continue Reading Statute Of Limitations in a New Jersey Workers’ Compensation “Occupational Disease” Claim

Generally speaking, a person who is assaulted at work to receive workers’ compensation benefits must show that the assault is related to the employment relationship and not from a purely personal relationship. If the assault arises out of a clearly personal dispute, the injured employee may be barred from obtaining workers’ compensation benefits. The injured party may, however, be able to pursue a common law negligence claim against the co-worker who perpetuated the assault.

In a recent case, Lesley Joseph v. Monmouth County, Mr. Joseph appealed a workers’ compensation Judge’s decision to dismiss his claim after he was assaulted by another employee at work. The Judge found that the assault lacked any connection to the workers’ employment, as it arose out of the worker’s involvement with the other employee’s pyramid investment scheme. The injured worker appealed arguing that the fact that the assault happened in the workplace was enough to make it arise “out of and in the course of” employment.

Continue Reading Is an Assault at Work Compensable Under the New Jersey Workers’ Compensation Statute?

According to the Insurance Journal, the five most common Workers’ Compensation claim injuries include:

  • Strains and sprains (30%)
  • Cuts or punctures (19%)
  • Contusions (12%)
  • Inflammation (5%)
  • Fractures (5%)”

The Department of Labor also lists strains and sprains as the top workplace injury. Many of these injuries take place while working in traditional blue collar jobs. For example:

  • Strains and sprains can occur from overexertion in material handling jobs.
  • Eye injuries most often happen while working in construction or manufacturing jobs.
  • Object impact and injuries from machinery or tools often arise in warehouses, manufacturing, and construction jobs.

Continue Reading Workers’ Compensation: 5 Most Common Injuries

When evaluating Workers’ Comp claims, the New Jersey courts closely evaluate the location, circumstances, and nature of work events that lead to an injury. There is a distinct difference in the approach to mandatory work activities vs. voluntary work activities.

Scenario 1: You are on the company softball team. During the last game, you are just about to run for home base when the batter’s ball strikes you in the head, knocking you out. You develop a subdural hematoma and have to have emergency surgery. Does Workers’ Comp cover you?

Continue Reading Workers’ Comp and Company Events—Are You Covered?

For any doctors who treat workers’ compensation patients, there are several issues they should be aware of in order to effectively provide treatment to these injured workers in New Jersey. If you are injured at work and getting medical treatment, the issues below are crucial for you to understand and discuss with your doctor if necessary: Continue Reading New Jersey Doctors Should Be Aware of Workers’ Compensation Issues