is-workers-compensation-your-only-remedy-for-a-work-related-injurySo you have been hurt on the job. In New Jersey, as in other states, you are entitled to seek workers’ compensation benefits for injuries sustained during the course of employment. The workers’ compensation laws were enacted to provide a benefit to both parties in the aftermath of a work-related injury. For the worker, there’s the opportunity to start receiving benefits within weeks of the injury, with benefits retroactive to the date of injury. You don’t have to incur the expense of a lawsuit and you won’t have to wait for compensation until the legal process is exhausted. As an employer, you don’t have to worry that a sympathetic jury will come back with a huge damage award. Payments are generally fixed under the workers’ compensation system.

But is that your exclusive remedy in the aftermath of a workplace injury? It depends.

The workers’ compensation laws are intended to compensate a worker for the negligence of an employer or a co-worker. If your injuries were caused entirely by the carelessness of your employer or a colleague, you must look only to the workers’ compensation system for reimbursement of any losses. However, if you can show that your injuries were caused, in whole or in part, by an unrelated third party, you can still pursue damages in a lawsuit against that third party. In fact, you can file a lawsuit simultaneously with a workers’ compensation claim.

So what does a third party claim look like? Some of the more common ones include:
• Injuries sustained in a motor vehicle accident caused by a third party
• Injuries suffered as a result of the malfunction or breakdown of tools, equipment or products manufactured or marketed by a third party
• Injuries caused by the negligence of someone on adjoining property

Contact Us

At Taylor & Boguski, we bring more than 70 years of combined legal experience to men and women throughout New Jersey. For a free initial consultation, contact our office online or call us at 856-200-8989.

We handle all workers’ compensation claims on a contingency basis. There will be no attorney fees unless we recover damages for your losses.

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Medical marijuana has been legal in New Jersey since 2010, but most employers and workers’ compensation insurance companies have thus far refused to cover the costs of medical marijuana when prescribed to treat a work-related injury. That practice has been ruled a violation of law by a workers’ compensation administrative law judge, in a ruling handed down in February, 2017.

In the case before the administrative law judge, a worker at a lumber company sustained an injury to his hand, and experienced ongoing pain. His doctor prescribed medical marijuana and the man filled the prescription at a state-authorized dispensary. His employer and the employer’s workers’ compensation insurance provider refused to reimburse him for the costs of the drug, so he stopped using medical marijuana and started using Percocet, which he claimed was less effective and had undesirable side-effects. He then brought legal action against his employer and the workers’ compensation insurer, asking for reimbursement of past expenses, as well as a ruling that all future prescription costs would be covered by workers’ compensation.

After hearing evidence from both parties, the judge concluded that the expense of the medical marijuana should have been reimbursed, as it was for prescription medication that was legally dispensed in New Jersey. Citing evidence that indicated that the medical marijuana was not “as debilitating” as the other medications the injured man had substituted, and that the medical marijuana had successfully treated his condition, the administrative law judge also ordered the workers’ compensation insurer to cover all future prescriptions for state-sanctioned medical marijuana.

Contact Us

At Taylor & Boguski, we bring more than 70 years of combined legal experience to injured workers throughout New Jersey. For a free initial consultation, contact our office online or call us at 856-200-8989.

We handle all workers’ compensation claims on a contingency basis. We won’t charge you attorney fees if we don’t recover compensation for your losses.

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When you’ve been injured on the job in New Jersey, you have a right to pursue workers’ compensation benefits. There’s a good chance, once your claim has been filed, that you’ll hear the terms “scheduled” and “non-scheduled” losses. If you’ve never been involved in a workers’ compensation claim before, you may be uncertain what those terms mean and how they might apply to your case.

Scheduled Losses

A scheduled loss derives its name from that fact that it’s a loss that is specifically listed on a state-approved “schedule” of the kind of injuries for which compensation is available. Furthermore, that schedule identifies a specific number of weeks of benefits for each type of injury. For example, an injury to your hand will allow you to recover for a certain number of weeks, but an injury to your knee or ankle may qualify you for a different number of weeks.

So-called “scheduled” losses typically involve appendages, including arms, legs, shoulders, hips, elbows, knees, wrists, ankles, fingers, toes, as well as ears and eyes. It important to understand, though, that scheduled loss payments are only available for what are perceived to be permanent injuries. If your injury is temporary, you will only be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits for the period during which your injury keeps you from working, or until you have reached what is known as “maximum medical improvement.” If your injury is deemed to be permanent and it’s to a body part that is listed on the schedule, the amount of weeks you would receive benefits is calculated by looking at the degree of your disability and your “scheduled” number of weeks. As an example, if your injury entitles you to 150 weeks, but the medical opinion is that you only have 30% loss of use with the foot—you’d be entitled to 45 weeks of compensation.

Non-Scheduled Losses

Non-scheduled losses involve injury to other parts of the body, including internal organs or your spinal cord. As with a scheduled loss, you will probably get a disability rating from the treating physician, who will estimate the degree of your disability. The number of weeks you’ll be able to recover benefits (at a rate of up to 70% of Average Weekly Wage) will be the percentage of your disability times 600—the maximum number of weeks you can recover benefits.

Contact Us

At Taylor & Boguski, we bring more than 70 years of combined legal experience to men and women throughout New Jersey. For a free initial consultation, contact our office online or call us at 856-200-8989.

We handle all workers’ compensation claims on a contingency basis. There will be no attorney fees unless we recover damages for your losses.

Are Workers’ Compensation Benefits Taxable?

tax

So you’ve been hurt on the job or you’ve developed an illness or disease because of exposure to hazardous or dangerous substances. Maybe it’s just caught up to you after a while—performing the same task over and over has led to carpal tunnel or some other form of repetitive stress injury. You notify employer, a claim is filed and approved and you start receiving benefits. If you look closely at your payments, you’ll notice that there are no taxes taken out. Does this mean you’ll have to pay them yourself? How are workers’ compensation benefits treated for tax purposes?

In New Jersey workers’ compensation benefits are not considered taxable income by either the state of New Jersey or the federal government, as long as they are paid through or in accordance with New Jersey’s workers’ compensation laws. Survivor benefits paid to loved ones after a death in the workplace or from an occupational disease are also exempt from taxation. The exemption, however, does not apply to any payments from company sponsored retirement plans, even if the retirement was in part a consequence of a work-related injury or illness.

There may also be limited circumstances where workers’ compensation benefits are taxable, if the beneficiary is simultaneously receiving Social Security disability benefits. For example, if you are receiving Social Security disability benefits and you file for and receive workers’ compensation benefits, the total amount you receive cannot exceed 80% of your “average current earnings ” before you were disabled. To the extent that it does, you may be required to offset, or reduce, the amount of SSD benefits you receive.

Contact Us

At Taylor & Boguski, we bring more than 70 years of combined legal experience to people throughout New Jersey. For a free initial consultation, contact our office online or call us at 856-200-8989.

We represent clients in workers’ compensation proceedings on a contingent fee basis. We won’t charge you attorney fees unless we recover compensation for your losses.

What to Do When Your Employer Won’t Submit Your Workers’ Compensation Claim

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You’ve been hurt on the job and you’ve notified your employer as soon as possible. But your employer is just sitting on it, refusing or simply failing to pass your claim on to the workers’ compensation insurance carrier. You need the benefits, as you can’t work. What are your options?

Obviously, one of the most beneficial things you can do is hire an experienced and aggressive workers’ compensation attorney. But there are things you can do before or after you’ve retained counsel:

  • Contact the workers’ compensation insurance company directly—Put together all medical records, get statements from witnesses, make copies and send everything to the workers’ compensation insurance company. Notify them of the date of the accident and the date you notified your employer. Follow up with a phone call and keep calling until someone takes action.
  • Contact the state of New Jersey Division of Workers’ Compensation—If you don’t want to have to deal with your employer or the workers’ compensation insurance company, you can contact the state workers’ compensation office directly. You’ll need proof that your company had workers’ compensation insurance—this proof is required to be posted in a prominent place at your workplace. If you can’t find that, contact the Compensation Rating and Inspection Bureau. Bureau officials will be able to tell you if your employer complied with the law (requiring workers’ compensation insurance), as well as what company is providing the workers’ compensation coverage.

Contact Taylor & Boguski

At Taylor & Boguski, we have more than 70 years of combined experience representing injured workers across New Jersey. For a free initial consultation, send us an e-mail or call us at 856-200-8989.

We handle all workers’ compensation claims on a contingency basis. You won’t pay any legal fees unless we get compensation for your losses.

Are There Death Benefits under New Jersey’s Workers’ Compensation Laws?

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When you’ve been hurt on the job, you naturally expect that you’ll be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. But what happens when your loved one dies from injuries suffered at work, or from a work-related illness?

Under New Jersey law, when a person dies in a work-related accident or as the result of an occupational illness, certain individuals related to or dependent upon the decedent have the right to recover up to 70% of his or her average weekly wage (AWW) for the 52 weeks immediately prior to their death. For purposes of the law, the death will be treated the same as a permanent total disability, entitling beneficiaries to payments for up to 450 weeks. There are some statutory limits to the amount that can be paid.

Under the New Jersey workers’ compensation laws, qualified dependents automatically include the surviving spouse and any biological children who lived with the deceased at the time of death. Anyone else seeking to qualify as a dependent must prove actually dependency status (at the time of death) to the workers’ compensation judge. Furthermore, if a surviving spouse or natural child was not part of the deceased’s household at the time of death, that person must also provide evidence of dependency. The law considers a biological child a dependent until age 18, or until age 23, if the child remains in school. Offspring with physical or mental disabilities may qualify for additional benefits.

The law also requires that the workers’ compensation insurance company pay up to $3,500 in funeral and burial expenses for a work-related death. Those benefits are payable to whoever has legal responsibility to pay the funeral expenses, whether it’s an individual or the estate.

Contact Us

At Taylor & Boguski, we bring more than 70 years of combined legal experience to injured people throughout New Jersey. For a free initial consultation, contact our office online or call us at 856-200-8989.

What Benefits Can You Expect When You File a Workers’ Compensation Claim?

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If you’ve been hurt on the job, but you’ve never filed a workers’ compensation claim before, you may be uncertain what benefits to expect. Maybe you’ve heard that you’re entitled to payments for lost wages or medical expenses, or even a lump sum when you have a permanent injury. This blog provides an overview of the benefits available in New Jersey when you submit a workers’ compensation claim.

The Basic Benefits

New Jersey law requires that your employer pay for all “reasonable and necessary medical care” when you have been hurt on the job. New Jersey is not what is known as a “wage loss state,” though, so technically, New Jersey workers’ compensation benefits do not include a provision for lost income. Instead, New Jersey mandates that employers compensate workers for any temporary disability, In essence an income replacement. Furthermore, if your injuries are permanent, even if they don’t keep you from working, you may be entitled to permanent disability compensation.

How Are Disability Payments Calculated?

For a temporary disability—where you were off work at least seven days, but are expected to or have returned to work—your temporary disability payments are calculated by taking 70% of your average weekly wage (AWW)—the average you earned over the last 52 calendar weeks. You may also be subject to maximum and minimum rates weekly benefits. To continue receiving any disability payments, you must remain under medical care. In addition, you can only receive temporary disability payments until you go back to work or until you have reached maximum medical improvement (MMI).

If, on the other hand, your disability is considered permanent, it will be identified as either permanent partial disability or permanent total disability. If you have sustained a permanent partial disability, you will be able to return to work, but will also be eligible for payments based on your percentage of disability. If your disability is permanent and total, meaning you can’t return to work, you will be entitled to 70% of your AWW for up to 450 weeks.

Contact Us

At Taylor & Boguski, we bring more than 70 years of combined legal experience to injured workers throughout New Jersey. For a free initial consultation, contact our office online or call us at 856-200-8989.

We handle all workers’ compensation claims on a contingency basis. We won’t charge you attorney fees if we don’t recover compensation for your losses.

When Can You Expect to Start to Collect Workers’ Compensation Benefits?

Injured person filling out a work injury claim form

One of the benefits that the workers’ compensation laws are supposed to provide workers is more timely access to benefits, as you don’t have to go through all the procedures tied to a personal injury lawsuit. But what does that mean—when can you actually expect to start collecting benefits?

The Waiting Period to Collect

You can’t actually file a claim for workers’ compensation benefits until your injury has kept you out of work for at least one calendar week. Once you do file, though, you will receive payments retroactive to the date of your injury (if your application is approved). The waiting period, though, only applies to compensation for lost wages—you don’t have to wait to seek medical treatment.

When Will Payments Actually Start?

In the best of all possible worlds, you won’t likely receive your first payment for at least two weeks, as the workers’ compensation insurance company needs time required to process, evaluate and approve your claim. If your claim is challenged, you won’t see any payments until the dispute is resolved. Nonetheless, your employer and the workers’ compensation insurance company cannot intentionally delay your claim. Under the New Jersey workers’ compensation law, a delay of more than 30 days may be considered unreasonable (provided there are no legitimate challenges to your claim) and the insurance provider and/or your employer can be fined an additional 25% penalty for wrongful delay.

Contact Us

At Taylor & Boguski, we bring more than 70 years of combined legal experience to men and women throughout New Jersey. For a free initial consultation, contact our office online or call us at 856-200-8989.

We handle all workers’ compensation claims on a contingency basis. There will be no attorney fees unless we recover damages for your losses.

Can My Employer Fire Me When I am Pursuing or Receiving Workers’ CompensationBenefits?

compensation-benefits

After a workplace injury, your first course of action will typically be to file an application for workers’ compensation benefits. Based on the type of injury you sustained, it can be months before you are ready to return to work. Can your employer terminate your employment, for any reason, while you are either pursuing or receiving Workers’ Compensation benefits? The answer, as with many things, is that “it depends.”

Under New Jersey law, the only prohibition on an employer regarding the termination of an employee related to workers’ compensation proceeding is that the employer may not fire a worker in retaliation for filing for benefits or for testifying at a workers’ compensation hearing. Because New Jersey is an at-will employment state, an employer may lay off or release an employee at any time for any reason, absent an employment contract, and provided the termination is not in violation of the law or of public policy.

For instance, if your employer terminates you because of your disability, you may be able to file a lawsuit under the Americans with Disabilities Act (the ADA). Your employer must make reasonable accommodations for your disability.

In addition, you may be able to file a discrimination action through the Workers’ Compensation system. To succeed with that type of legal action, though, you will have to demonstrate that you can handle the essential duties of your job.

Contact Us

At Taylor & Boguski, we bring more than 70 years of combined legal experience to injured workers throughout New Jersey. For a free initial consultation, contact our office online or call us at 856-200-8989.

We handle all Workers’ Compensation claims on a contingency basis. We won’t charge you attorney fees if we don’t recover compensation for your losses.

What Is a Pre-Existing Condition in a Workers’ Compensation Claim?

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When you’ve been hurt at work, your first course of action is typically to file for workers’ compensation benefits. But there are some legal hurdles you need to clear before you qualify for payments.

You Must Have Been Hurt on the Job

The Workers’ Compensation system is set up to address only injuries suffered on the job. If you have an injury or illness unrelated to work that keeps you from doing your job, you may qualify for benefits through the Social Security Administration.

The first requirement to receive workers’ compensation benefits is that you must have a job-related injury or illness. That injury need not be suffered in the actual performance of your job. For example, if you are hired to load and unload trucks, you can still file a Workers’ Compensation claim if you slipped and fell in the lunchroom or on the way to the bathroom, or were hurt in a job-related motor vehicle accident.

You Must Have Been an “Employee” of the Company from Whom You Seek Benefits

Under the Workers’ Compensation laws in New Jersey, the definition of an employee is pretty broad. If you are an hourly or salaried worker and are on the company’s payroll, you will qualify. However, even if your role resembles that of an "independent contractor," or even if you are called an independent contractor by your employer, you may still qualify for workers’ compensation benefits. New Jersey looks at two primary factors to determine whether you are a qualifying employee—the amount of control the employer has over your duties and actions, and the relative nature of the work you perform. The more control your employer exercises—hours, location, assignments—the more likely you will be an employee. In addition, if the work you perform is an integral part of the business, you will likely be a qualified employee for Workers’ Compensation benefits.

Your Employer Must Have Had or Been Required to Obtain Workers’ Compensation Insurance

Under state law, all New Jersey employers must either have a policy of workers’ compensation insurance or be approved for self insurance.

Contact Us

At Taylor & Boguski, we bring more than 70 years of combined legal experience to injured people throughout New Jersey. For a free initial consultation, contact our office online or call us at 856-200-8989.