Workers’ Compensation, or workmans’ comp, is an insurance program that provides compensation to people who suffer injuries or illnesses on-the-job or as a result of job duties. Each state has its own set of workers’ comp laws and programs. The following will provide more information on workers compensation in the state of New Jersey and why time is an important factor.
There are several waiting periods when you are injured at work and pursuing benefits. First, you must wait to become eligible. You become eligible for temporary disability benefits when you are unable to work for seven days, nonconsecutively and including weekends and holidays. Once you are approved for benefits, you can expect to wait between two and four weeks to begin receiving them.
In addition to these waiting periods, there are two strict deadlines you must follow by law to ensure you receive benefits: statute of limitations and notice of injury. The law aside, there’s one key reason you do not want to delay action after you have been injured at work: credibility. Read on for a detailed explanation of how statute of limitations, notice of injury, and credibility can affect your workers’ compensation benefits.
Statute of Limitations
The statute of limitations determines the amount of time you have to file a claim with the Division of Workers’ Compensation in New Jersey’s Department of Labor and Workforce Development. There is a two-year statute of limitations for workers’ compensation cases in the state of New Jersey. A formal claim must be filed within two years of the date of injury. For illnesses that develop over time (examples include mesothelioma and carpel tunnel syndrome), the claim must be filed within two years of the date that you first became aware of the illness and its cause.
It’s important to note that not all injured workers will file a formal claim with the state. In fact, most injured workers will settle in mediation with the employer’s insurance company outside of court. If a dispute arises that cannot be resolved, you will file a claim with the state.
Disputes that can be resolved by the state may include, for example:
- Your employer does not consider your injury work-related
- You and your employer disagree on the type and extent of medical treatment required
- Your employer does not think your injury is sever enough to require disability benefits
However, it’s impossible to know whether an issue will arise in your mediation. That’s why it’s best to start the process as soon as possible. If a dispute does come up, you and your lawyer will have time to develop a case well in advance of the statute of limitations. If you miss the two year deadline, even the most skilled and successful lawyer will not be able to help you.
Notice of Injury
There is a certain amount of time by which you must give your employer “notice of injury” as required by law. Failure to inform your employer in a timely and proper manner will cause your benefits to be denied. You should always report injuries and accidents at work, even if the injury does not seem severe and you are unsure whether you will seek workers’ compensation benefits.
The notice of injury deadline in New Jersey is 90 days. However, you should inform your employer well in advance of that deadline and ideally immediately after the incident occurs. You may give notice to your supervisor, boss, or anyone in authority at your workplace. Notice of injury does not need to be in writing. Most likely, it will be an oral description of the incident to the nearest supervisor, but it is a good idea to request an incident report be completed to keep on file. Be sure to record the date, time, place, witnesses, and other important details surrounding the incident for your own records.
You should also tell your employer if you are in need of medical treatment when you give notice of injury. Under New Jersey workers’ compensation law, your employer and their insurance company have the right to select the healthcare provider that treats your injury.
If you delay at any point, you may raise suspicion in your employer and their insurance company. You should complete every step of the workers’ compensation process in a timely manner: give notice of injury, request medical care, contact a lawyer, and file a claim with your employer’s insurance company. Any significant time gap can raise a red flag even though your injury is honest and authentic. The insurance company can easily use this to discredit your claim and give you the least compensation possible.
Not only can a skilled lawyer help you file your claim in a timely manner, they will know how to best deal with tricky insurance companies. They can best advocate for you and your case because they have negotiated with them many times before and are familiar with their techniques. Workers’ comp cases can be difficult because they can make it seem like it is you vs. your employer, even when it was an accident and no one was really at fault. That is why it is important to consult with a successful lawyer who has plenty of experience with workers’ compensation mediation and cases.