By Chris Emrich
If you have been injured at work, there are three types of benefits your employer might have to provide: medical treatment, temporary disability, and permanency benefits.
The first and most important benefit available to injured workers is medical treatment for the work-related injury. Treatment must be provided if it is reasonably necessary “to cure and relieve the worker of the effects of the injury and restore the functions” to the injured body part. A unique feature of the New Jersey workers’ compensation system is that the employer (or, more accurately, the employer’s insurance provider) is responsible for furnishing such treatment. In other states, injured workers are permitted to seek their own treatment. It is vital to speak with an attorney so you do not end up paying for treatment that should have been provided by your employer. Even if your employer is providing treatment, you might need an attorney to fight to make sure that you are getting all the necessary treatment to address your injury.
The next type of benefit available to injured workers is temporary disability, or “lost time” benefits. If you are unable to return to work while you recover from an injury, you are owed 70% of your average weekly wages up to a statutory maximum ($921.00 in 2019). This is also true if the doctor releases you to “light duty” and your employer is unable to accommodate your restrictions!
Finally, a workplace injury might entitle you to permanent disability benefits based on the loss of function of the injured body part(s). Once your treatment is complete, both sides will typically schedule permanency examinations with “expert” doctors familiar with the New Jersey workers’ compensation system. These doctors diagnose the work-related conditions and provide permanency estimates. Injured workers should have an attorney on their side to fight for every dollar owed as a result of the workplace injury.