Workers’ compensation is a no-fault system that provides wage replacement and medical benefits to employees who have been injured on the job. This article summarizes your employer’s duties under New Jersey’s workers’ compensation program.
Your employer must provide you with workers’ compensation benefits even if:
- Your injury was caused by the negligence of a co-worker;
- You assume the risks inherent in or arising out of performing your job; or
- Your injury arises from your employer’s failure to maintain safe premises and provide you with suitable appliances.
In exchange for the benefits you received under the workers’ compensation system, you waive the right to sue your employer for negligence when you are injured at work. However, if your employer fails to acquire adequate workers’ compensation coverage for its employee––either through an insurance policy or through self-insurance––your employer will be left open to being sued for negligence if and when you are injured at work
THIRD PARTY LIABILITY
Workers’ compensation does not cover injuries that were caused by a third party, meaning someone other than yourself, your employer, or a coworker. However, your employer may still be required to provide you with workers’ compensation benefits until the issue of third-party liability has been settled, either by negotiations with the third party or by lawsuit. Your employer may then recover the value of the benefits they provided to you from the third party.
UNINSURED EMPLOYER’S FUND
Your employer is required to annually contribute to the Uninsured Employer’s Fund (UEF). This is a public fund created by the state to provide benefits to injured employees whose employers do not have sufficient workers’ compensation coverage. This applies to employers who carry workers’ compensation insurance and those who are self-insured. Employers who fail to contribute may be penalized.
New Jersey’s workers’ compensation laws apply to virtually every employer in the state with at least one employee, with the exception of state and local agencies and school districts. Your employer cannot waive or be released, in whole or in part, from its obligations under workers compensation laws in any way, unless it is subject to an applicable exception.
NOTIFICATION OF COVERAGE
At the time you are hired and periodically thereafter, your employer should provide you with the following information:
- An explanation of your workers’ compensation coverage and benefits
- How, when, where, and to whom to report an injury
- Where to go for medical treatment if injured at work
Your employer must also display a notice stating that it is in compliance with state workers’ compensation law in a conspicuous location in the workplace.
Your employer must promptly report any accident or compensable injury to its workers’ compensation insurance carrier whenever:
- Your injury causes you to lose time from your regular work duties beyond the day or shift upon which the injury occurred;
- You require medical treatment beyond simple first aid; or
- You report an occupational disease.
In addition, your employer must file a First Report of Injury with the Department of Workers Compensation (DWC) within 3 weeks of the of the accident and a Final/Subsequent Report of Accident within 26 weeks of your reaching maximum medical improvement (MMI) or fully recovering from your injury.
ACCOMMODATING YOUR INJURY
When you have been injured at work and have filed a workers’ compensation claim, your employer cannot:
- Retaliate or discriminate against you for filing a workers compensation claim;
- Refuse to accommodate your work restrictions; or
- Terminate your employment because you have work restrictions;
Your employer should engage in an individual interactive process with you in order to make reasonable accommodation for your injury that does not represent an undue burden on you. This simply means that your employer should talk to you in order to figure out how to accommodate your injury. If a doctor gives you work restrictions, your employer must make reasonable accommodations for those restrictions.
Contact An Experienced New Jersey Workers’ Compensation Attorney
For more information regarding your employer’s obligations under New Jersey’s workers’ compensation laws, or any other questions regarding your rights as an injured employee, contact an experienced New Jersey workers’ compensation attorney for a free consultation.