What is the Second Injury Fund?
When you are injured at work, you may be thinking a few weeks and you’ll be right back at work. But what happens if the injury renders you permanently disabled? What can you do?
For example, let’s say you had lost one of your eyes in a childhood accident. While at work one day, you have an accident that causes severe damage to your working eye. The result of the accident leaves you blind. Since you can’t return to work, what can you do for money?
The Purpose of the Second Injury Fund
This is where the Second Injury Fund will come into play. Established in 1923, the Second Injury Fund was created to make benefit payments to workers who have become totally disabled after a workplace accident and were already partially disabled prior to the on the job injury. This fund is supposed to encourage employers to hire disabled workers by limiting their liability for workers’ compensation payments to amounts for the latest injury. So in the case above, the employer would only have to pay for the worker’s accident, not for the disability the accident had caused. The Second Injury Fund assumes the liability of any remaining benefits, such as disability benefits.
If awarded these benefits, you will receive payments at the end of your workers’ compensation and will continue until your death. These benefits will continue as long as you remain totally and permanently disabled. So with the scenario above, if you received surgery on your eye, regaining your vision, you will no longer be considered disabled and the payments will stop.
In order to be eligible for the benefits, you need to show that you were permanently and totally disabled as result of a work-related injury and a pre-existing permanent partial disability. The pre-existing disability doesn’t necessarily have to be work-related; however, the injury that caused your total disability must be. What will happen is six months before the end of your first permanent and total disability, your case will go to the New Jersey Division of Vocational Rehabilitation Services. The agency will send you a form that needs to be completed along with a doctor’s certification that shows you cannot return to work because of your disability.
Once the documentation is received, your claim will be processed and you will then receive benefits every other week. You will need to recertify every year and every five years, you will need to send a photo of yourself to the agency to prove you are still disabled.
What the Benefits Don’t Cover
It’s important to note that the Second Injury Fund doesn’t cover medical benefits. Plus if you take your case to court and receive a settlement for your injuries, this money will be credited against payments.
Dealing with workers’ compensation and disability claims can be quite complex. This is why you need to speak with an experienced workers’ compensation attorney. If you were injured at work, don’t delay. Contact the Law Offices of Anthony Carbone today for a free consultation.