If you suffer a work-related injury or illness in New Jersey, you qualify under law for workers’ compensation no matter who or what was responsible. You are eligible for benefits without ever having to prove your employer was at fault, keeping in mind that employers can still argue whether an injury is truly “work-related”, as well as the extent of the injury and required medical treatment.
Workers’ compensation covers repetitive stress injuries, accidents, pre-existing conditions worsened by job duties, illnesses developed over time, and even injuries for which you were partly at fault.
This law makes New Jersey a no-fault state for workers’ compensation, which means you do not need to “prove fault” to receive benefits. But there’s a catch: In exchange, injured workers waive the right to pursue a lawsuit against their employer for negligence or any other charge in relation to the incident (exception when the behavior of employer was intentional or abusive).
However, injured workers do not waive the right to sue a third party that was at fault. If your injury was caused by a third party, it is a good idea to consider a lawsuit against them. While workers’ compensation is a convenient, efficient program run by the state, monetary compensation tends to be minimal. The program was designed to help the injured person provide for their family while they are out of work and it does not account for pain and suffering.
Every person injured at work deserves appropriate compensation for their pain and suffering, but there are only certain cases where this is realistic. This is generally only possible when a person, company, or product can be identified as the clear cause of the injury.
Filing a Third Party Lawsuit
The process of filing a third party lawsuit will differ from your workers’ compensation claim process. The workers’ compensation is a state program run by the Division of Worker’ Compensation in the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development. It was designed intentionally to give injured workers’ a speedy process so they can provide for their family. Third party claims, however, will go through the traditional court system and may take a much longer span of time.
If you have cause for a third party lawsuit, you can pursue the lawsuit as well as workers’ compensation benefits. Some examples of third party lawsuits you can pursue:
- Products liability lawsuit against the manufacturer of a defective product
- Toxic tort lawsuit against the manufacture of a toxic substance
- Personal injury lawsuit against individual or company that directly caused incident
- Negligence lawsuit against individual or company that indirectly caused incident
- Personal injury lawsuit against co-worker that intentionally harmed you
Another big difference between worker’ comp and third party lawsuits is that fault must be proven. An experienced lawyer is highly recommended for third party lawsuits so they can successfully prove fault in court. A great lawyer will gather and develop evidence for you to put together a winning case.
A skill attorney will also have a strong network of medical and professional experts to serve as witnesses. They can help by obtaining necessary medical records, tracking down other key witnesses to testify about your job requirements and regular activities, and all evidence that the third party was at fault.
Skilled lawyers will also have plenty of experience dealing with other lawyers and tricky insurance company tactics. They will know how to best negotiate and recognize when a settlement or offer is too low.
There are many factors that determine the monetary value of a claim, including your disability rating, cost of medical treatment, and previous wages. A skilled lawyer will consider all of these factors and more when developing your case and in negotiations. A lawyer will know how much money you really deserve and won’t settle for anything less.
Gathering evidence and negotiating with other lawyers and insurance companies can make or break a case. When done well, you will receive a very fair settlement. When done poorly, you risk receiving an unfair settlement or none at all.
In addition, if you win money from a third party lawsuit, your employer will reduce your workers’ compensation benefits New Jersey law entitles the employer and insurance company to be credited in order to prevent duplicate benefits for the same injury.
The amount of reduction is generally as follows:
- If the third party settlement amount is equal to workers’ compensation benefits, you will lose two-thirds of your worker’s compensation benefits minus $750.
- If the third party settlement is greater than workers’ compensation benefits, you will also lose two-thirds of your worker’s compensation benefits minus $750.
- If the third party settlement amount is less than workers’ compensation benefits, you will lose two-thirds of the (value of) third party settlement amount minus $750.
Hopefully you have learned a little more about what it will be like to sue a third party at fault for your work-related injury. You deserve appropriate compensation for your pain and suffering. If you need a successful lawyer to help with your third party lawsuit or workers’ compensation case, we can connect you with the best in New Jersey. We have a solid network of attorneys throughout the state who will work hard to get the money you deserve.
This is only general legal advice that can be applied to most cases. Always consult with a lawyer for advice pertaining to your specific situation.