If you’ve missed time from work due to an on the job injury, you may have noticed a strange phenomenon.   Sometimes, no matter how seriously injured you are or even how the accident happened, your employer or co-workers start to treat you like you are committing insurance fraud.    

There’s usually a grace period after a work injury, when your co-workers and supervisors are very supportive and concerned about your recovery.  Then, as time goes on, you’re treated as though you’re the one who is to blame for your injury and any other problems at the workplace, even if there is no connection to your absence.  It may be human nature, it may be just one person with an axe to grind, but one way or the other, it will cause a great deal of stress for you.  Workers’ Compensation in New Jersey is a “No Fault” system.  This means it doesn’t matter if an accident is caused by either the employee or employer’s own negligence.  If you are hurt while you are working, you are entitled to benefits, end of story.   

If you’re back at work, it’s time to focus on your job and avoid discussing your injury and problems with co-workers.  This will minimize any of the resentment your co-workers may have because they feel they had more work while you were out or resent the fact you were paid while out of work recuperate.
Resentments from co-workers can lead to big trouble.   Over time, the perception that an injured worker is on an all expense paid vacation, rather than recovering seems to creep up.   While there is usually no basis for suspicion, be aware that insurance carriers and employers are increasingly keeping track of injured workers through video surveillance and other investigative tactics.   Insurance carriers love throwing around the word ‘fraud’, and most of the time, it’s just not the case.  What you can do, is follow your doctor’s advice and any restrictions you are placed on.  

If you are taken out of work and receiving temporary disability benefits, you cannot perform other work.    This means you cannot work at a part-time job or help out a friend or family member with a day’s work because you’re out of work and collect benefits at the same time.  If you are collecting workers’ compensation benefits and working, the insurance carrier will find out, whether through surveillance or a disgruntled co-worker that is upset you are being paid while out for your injury.  If you have questions regarding temporary disability benefits, you should speak to an attorney.  At Stark & Stark we are committed to protecting the rights of injured workers and offer free consultations to discuss any questions regarding your work related injury.