Fortunately, you may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits if you are injured at your job in New Jersey. These benefits can pay your medical bills and lost wages while you are off work recovering, regardless of who was at fault in causing your injury. In order to obtain these benefits, you will need to go through specific steps. Here’s what you need to know about filing your claim and what to expect after you do.
What Are the Steps a Worker Needs to Take to Obtain Workers’ Comp Benefits?
If you are injured at work, it may be your first time needing to file a workers’ compensation claim. You should understand how the process works and the steps you need to take so that you comply with New Jersey’s workers’ compensation laws and deadlines. Otherwise, you might not take necessary actions to strengthen your case and to comply with strict deadlines for filing your claim. Here are the basic steps in your workers’ compensation claim:
- Get medical care. If you are hurt at work, you need to seek prompt medical care. Even if you do not believe you were injured badly or think you can “tough it out,” you want to see a doctor soon after your accident for your health and to avoid disputes regarding whether you were hurt on the job. If your condition is a medical emergency, you can see the doctor of your choice. Otherwise, your employer has a right to pick the doctor you see.
- Tell your doctor about your injury. You want to tell your doctor that your injury was caused by a workplace accident. He needs to know what happened to properly treat you and so that he knows that you will be filing a workers’ compensation claim.
- Report your injury. You also want to report your injury to your employer as soon as possible. Under New Jersey law, you have 90 days from the date of your injury to report your accident and injury. However, you want to do this right away to avoid arguments about whether you were hurt at work and how serious your injury was—common when people wait to report their workplace accidents. Make your report in writing, be sure to note the date and time it occurred, and keep a copy of your notification for your records.
- Check the status of your claim. Your employer or their workers’ compensation insurance company has 21 days from the date of receiving your notice of injury to file a Report of Injury form with the New Jersey Division of Workers’ Compensation. If they fail to do so, you need to contact your employer and insurer. You may also need to retain an experienced workers’ compensation attorney.
- Receive a decision on your claim. Your employer or their insurer have a duty to investigate your claim. They will either begin paying your medical bills and wages or deny your claim. If your claim is denied, you should hire a lawyer immediately.
- File for a hearing. If your claim is denied, you can either file a Claim Petition or an Application for an Informal Hearing. An informal hearing is like a mediation with the workers’ compensation judge to try to resolve your dispute. Your hearing is usually scheduled within a few weeks of your application. If you file a Claim Petition, the process is more formal, and you will have a trial in front of the judge, who will write a decision on your claim. An attorney can tell you whether you should file for an informal or formal hearing. You must file your Claim Petition within two years of the date of your injury or the receipt of your last workers’ compensation payment.
- File an appeal. If you disagree with the judge’s decision on your Claim Petition, you can file an appeal to the Superior Court Appellate Division.
Did your employer deny your workers’ compensation claim? Manfred Ricciardelli has been helping workers fight to obtain the workers’ compensation benefits they are entitled to for over 20 years. Call our office or start an online chat to schedule your free consultation to get your questions answered and learn about your legal rights under New Jersey’s workers’ compensation laws.