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.
In order to be eligible for this wage replacement benefit or temporary disability benefits, you must be under the care of an authorized doctor and unable to work for at least seven days. On the eighth day you are eligible for New Jersey workers’ compensation benefits. Please note that it does not have to be the first seven days or even seven days in a row; once you are out of work for a the required period of time, you are eligible for the workers’ compensation benefits.
You will continue to be eligible for temporary disability as long as the doctor indicates that you are unable to work or the doctor indicates that you can return to work in a limited capacity (light duty) but your employer cannot accommodate such a restriction. If you employer can accommodate the restriction, you must return to work and attempt to perform the modified job duties.
If you have been discharged from treatment with permanent restrictions and you are able to do the essential functions of your job, with some reasonable accommodation, you may have rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) or the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination. However, your employer will not be required to create an entirely new position for you.
Under these circumstances you could be eligible for unemployment following a period of disability until you can find a new job within the permanent restrictions. If you have questions about your rights, you should seek legal counsel. At Stark & Stark, our experienced NJ workers’ compensation attorneys and legal staff can help you understand your rights. Please call us to schedule your free, no obligation consultation.