What Your Friends Don’t Know about Your Work-Related Accident
Like many people, you may put some stock into the “word on the street.” However, when it comes to workers’ compensation, there’s something you should know. What happened to your friends as far as securing benefits for their work-related accident may not apply to you. You should absolutely speak with an experienced workers’ compensation attorney to get some straight answers.
Some injured workers are afraid to speak with a lawyer for a few reasons. In the first place, they figure they’re without an income. How in the world can they possibly afford to pay for legal advice?
Here’s the good news. Attorneys who represent individuals hurt at work are bound by strict guidelines. You won’t be expected to come up with a retainer fee. In fact, the attorney can’t charge you money while pursuing a claim on your behalf.
If for some reason, the court denies your workers’ compensation case, no legal fees will be assessed against you. The judge determines the amount due to your lawyer based on your settlement or award. And, that figure is then divided between you and the insurance company for your employer. You don’t have to worry about reaching into your pocket to pay attorneys’ fees.
In the meantime, you may think that your immigration status will work against you. Under New Jersey law, you can’t be denied benefits because you are not a citizen or because you are an undocumented immigrant.
If you fear you’ll be fired for filing a workers’ compensation claim, it’s all the more reason you should consult with a lawyer who represents injured workers. You may have a case for wrongful termination.
Were You Injured in a Work-Related Accident
Asking if you were injured in a work-related accident is somewhat of a rhetorical question. You could have a mishap at work and be lucky enough to escape harm. If that’s the case and injuries don’t show up later, there’s a chance you won’t have a workers’ compensation claim.
The concept behind making a claim for workers’ compensation most often begins with your need for medical treatment. Of course, there’s also the issue of lost wages. In some cases, you may also be entitled to an award for partial or total permanency benefits. Again, all of this presupposes that you suffered an injury.
Meanwhile, there’s also a chance you became ill as a result of some type of occupational exposure. This could range from inhaling dangerous fumes at work. Additionally, repetitive bending and lifting may result in severe back problems, and therefore, fall under the category of an occupational injury.
In the meantime, there are also everyday mishaps that can occur at work. Perhaps you are a delivery truck driver involved in a motor vehicle crash. Maybe you are a factory worker whose hand got caught in a machine. The list goes on as to accidents that happen on the job on a daily basis.
New Jersey laws make it somewhat clear as far as what constitutes a compensable injury or death. According to NJSA 34:15-7, the majority of the state’s workers are eligible for benefits for any “accident arising out of and in the course of employment.”
That’s not to say that the insurance companies won’t do everything in their power to limit your benefits. You may also feel challenged when it comes to acceptance of your claim. Once again, in both cases, you’ll benefit from the advice of an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer.
In a best-case scenario, you’ll want to consult with an attorney as soon as you realize you have sustained an injury or are suffering from a work-related illness. This helps ensure you won’t wait around for medical treatment or some portion of your lost wages.
The statute of limitations refers to your legal time limits to file a claim. If the insurance company failed to pay you benefits, you have two years from the date of the accident to file a claim petition with the Division of Workers’ Compensation.
However, that time limit could extend if the workers’ compensation insurance company paid for your medical benefits or sent you money. It would then run from the last time you received authorized medical care or received any type of monetary benefits.
So, what happens if you’re claiming an occupational exposure? Often, it takes more than two years to prove that a dangerous substance caused a deadly disease. The general rule of thumb is that the statute runs from the date of discovery that your illness is work-related.
If you’re the survivor of someone who passed away from an on the job accident, you may be entitled to file a dependency claim. The statute of limitations is two years from the date of death.
Once again, your best bet is to consult with an experienced workers’ compensation attorney as soon as possible. Procrastination could jeopardize your right to recovery.
Workers’ Compensation Benefit
With all of this in mind, you may not understand what type of benefits are available to you as the victim of a work accident. They are broken down into a few categories, as follows:
- Medical Treatment: Other than emergency medical care, the workers’ compensation carrier generally makes arrangements for your treating doctors and other medical professionals. Unauthorized medical care may leave you with bills you’ll have to pay on your own.
- Temporary Disability Benefits: The bottom line is that you are most likely due to a portion of your lost wages if an authorized treating physician tells you to stay out of work. Temporary disability benefits come with both minimum and maximum amounts and are based on your earnings.
- Partial or Total Permanent Disability Benefits: You should know that just because you’re found partially and permanent disabled, does not mean you can’t return to work. Your attorney can provide you with information regarding the chart used to determine your level of permanent disability.
All things considered, the insurance company could voluntarily provide you with one or more of these benefits. However, an attorney can help you make sure nothing is missed.
Other Information about Work-Related Accidents
Truth be told, there are many nuances to workers’ compensation law. It represents the ultimate in no-fault insurance. For example, if you slipped and fell at work because you left a box in a walkway, you won’t be stopped from filing a claim. In other words, you don’t have to prove your employer or anyone else was at fault, to receive workers’ compensation benefits.
That said, you could meet up with some resistance if there are allegations you were involved in horseplay or purposefully caused your injuries.
You may also be entitled to file a lawsuit if someone outside your employer or co-employee caused the accident that resulted in your injuries. A third party claim might be brought against another driver who caused a motor vehicle crash that happened during the course of your employment.
An attorney who has experience handling both personal injury lawsuits and workers’ compensation matters can offer you advice concerning the pursuit of both types of legal action.
There are other particularities in the law that warrant the need to meet with an attorney rather than rely on the information you receive from others. This is especially true if the insurance company denies your case.
Conclusion of a Workers’ Compensation Matter
Very few workers’ compensation cases end with a lump sum settlement. When that happens, there’s usually a question connecting your injuries to a work-related accident.
Workers’ compensation actions filed with the court require judicial approval. However, the final judgment does not necessarily mean the case is closed forever.
On the one hand, it may be that you need further medical treatment, and therefore, reimbursement for a new set of lost wages. On the other, it could be that your condition has worsened, and you are entitled to a larger percentage of permanent disability.
Once again, a statute of limitations applies when it comes to filing a reopener claim. As soon as you feel the need for more treatment or that your condition has changed, you should consult with an experienced workers compensation lawyer.
With over three decades of helping injured workers and other personal injury victims, the Law Offices of Anthony Carbone offers the experienced legal counsel you need. Contact our office at 201-762-8956 to learn how we can help you wade through the maze of available benefits. We look forward to assisting you.