What is Workers Comp or Workmens Compensation?
Workers compensation, formerly known as workmens compensation, is a form of insurance that employers are required to carry in order to provide workers who sustain an injury on the job with insurance benefits for related medical expenses and partial wage replacement. For example, if a worker experiences on the job injury, often times, instead of suing their employer, they would file a claim through their employer’s workers compensation insurance company.
Although this may seem simple, the workers compensation claim outcome is many times unfair to the injured or ill worker. In addition, when an injured or ill worker accepts a workers compensation settlement they often times automatically relinquish their rights to sue their employer (except in some cases of extreme negligence). Because there are limits to injured workers’ rights once a settlement is accepted, and because injuries can sometimes be serious causing long term loss of work or long or short term disability, it is advisable to contact a workers compensation attorney to review the circumstances surrounding your case. The workers compensation attorneys at the Clark Law Firm, P.C., are knowledgeable of the complexities related to workers compensation law, and are experienced in successfully handling workers compensation cases.
Eligibility Requirements for Workers Compensation Insurance | Steps to Filing a Workers Compensation Claim
In order to be qualified for workers compensation benefits, the worker must be employed with a company that has (or should have) workers compensation insurance and the worker must sustain injuries or become ill as a result of the performance of job-related duties or while at work.
Below is a list of basic steps that may be followed when filing a workers compensation claim:
- Obtain medical treatment immediately. Treating the injury or illness should be the main and most important priority. The treating physician should be informed that that the injury / illness is work-related.
- Report the injury to your employer or supervisor immediately as failure to report the injury within 30 days may impede your ability to file a claim.
- Write notes about the accident / work environment and related personal injury so details are documented. Report the details of the injury or illness to the employer.
- Create a list of any witnesses to the accident / injury, including their name and contact information.
- Obtain workers compensation forms from your employer. Submit the completed forms to file a workers compensation claim.
- Do not discuss the claim with anyone other than your employer or physician. What you say can and may be used against you at a later time.
- Contact a workers compensation lawyer as soon as possible to review your case and ensure that your rights are protected.
Considerations for Workers Compensation Settlement | Types of Workers Compensation Settlements
It should be known that workers compensation claims are voluntary, meaning that the workers compensation insurance company does not have to agree on a settlement, nor does the injured worker need to accept a settlement that has been offered. There are various factors to consider when contemplating a settlement and it is important to know what the implications are of the decision. For this reason, consulting with an experienced workers compensation attorney will ensure the injured worker understands the ramifications of their decision. The extent of injury needs to be strongly considered, as well as the prognosis for recovery and future ability to earn income.
The two main type of workers compensation settlements are either a lump-sum settlement or a structured settlement. In a lump-sum settlement the injured or ill worker will receive a one-time payment in exchange for relinquishing certain rights to pursue additional compensation from the employer or insurance company. A structured settlement will provide smaller payments in incremental time periods, such as every month, every year, every five years, etc. for a designated time period.
When is the Right Time to Contact a New Jersey Workers Compensation Attorney?
It is wise in most workers compensation cases to consult with a workers compensation lawyer prior to accepting a workers compensation settlement. In the case of minor injury where the injured worker sustained minor injuries that caused them to miss work for several days or weeks, and full recovery is experienced or expected within that time frame, it is most likely not necessary to engage the services of a workers compensation attorney. However, in situations where injuries are more serious, a long recovery is expected, or injuries are life changing, it is strongly advised to contact an experienced New Jersey workers compensation attorney.
For example, if a worker suffers a simple sprained ankle during the course of performing their work duties and the workers comp insurance company paid the related medical bills and weekly compensation for the time the injured worker was unable to work, and the doctor has released the worker to return to work because they appeared to be and feel completely healed, it is not necessary to contact a workers compensation lawyer. However, if the injuries are more serious, the healing time frame is longer than expected, and the injured worker is not confident about accepting a settlement agreement with the workers compensation insurance company in which their future rights to compensation or medical care will be relinquished, it is advisable that they contact a New Jersey workers compensation attorney for a consultation before moving forward.
Also, in cases where workers experienced workplace injury or illness and one or more of the following circumstances occur, a workers compensation attorney should be contacted as soon as possible:
- Injuries require surgery
- Injuries are moderate to severe
- Injuries cause permanent or partial disability
- The injured party is no longer able to work on a regular basis
- The injured party may be able to work in some capacity, but not in the current position
- There is a dispute regarding the decision made by the employer or workers compensation insurance company
- The injured party is not receiving the correct or appropriate benefits
- Medical benefits are denied
- The injured party does not have a clear understanding of the workers compensation process
Call the Clark Law Firm, P.C. Today to Speak With An Experienced New Jersey Workers Compensation Attorney
Workplace accidents or unsafe work conditions can cause illness or injury to workers ranging from minor injury to severe, life changing injury or illness. Since accepting workers compensation settlements require workers to give up some rights related to the pursuit of additional benefits and compensation, it is imperative that the injured or ill worker be very clear on what the implications of the workers compensation settlement are. Workers compensation claims and related settlement offers can be complicated.
If you have sustained moderate to severe injuries on the job, contact the NJ workers compensation attorneys at the Clark Law Firm, P.C. as soon as possible for a free consultation. Our personal injury attorneys are well versed in workers compensation law, and will guide you as to the best course of action to ensure you receive the benefits and compensation that you are entitled to. In addition, if your on the job injury has caused you to be unable to return to work permanently, our personal injury lawyers can guide you through filing for a Social Security Disability claim. Consulting with our experienced workers compensation lawyers sooner than later will ensure your workers compensation claim is handled properly from the onset and that you have the best chances of a successful claim.