When you start a new job, you may be looking forward to the benefits. These may include health insurance, paid vacation, sick time, and a retirement plan. But there is usually a waiting period for these benefits. You may have to work for several weeks or even several months before you are eligible.
But does that include workers' compensation benefits? What if you are hurt in an accident on the first day of the job?
Eligibility requirements for workers' compensation
All employers in New Jersey must carry workers' compensation insurance. These are the requirements to receive workers' compensation benefits:
- The injured worker must be a full-time, part-time, temporary, or seasonal employee (not an independent contractor).
- The injury or illness must have been work-related.
- A worker must report the injury or illness to the employer within 90 days of an accident or when they become aware of an illness.
There is no requirement to work for an employer for a certain amount of time. All employees become eligible for workers' compensation benefits on the very first day of work.
However, that does not mean that filing a claim for benefits will be a smooth process.
Steps you can take after an injury
So what should you do if you are hurt in a workplace accident on your first day?
- Get medical attention. It's essential to have a doctor diagnose your injury and begin treatment. There will also be documentation of your injury that can be useful when filing a claim for benefits.
- Notify your employer about your injury. The law allows 90 days to notify your employer, but it's best to report your injury as soon as possible. Provide the notification in writing.
- Your employer will file a First Report of Injury form. This form serves as official notification of your injury to the New Jersey Division of Workers' Compensation and must be filed within 21 days.
- The claim is processed. Your employer's insurance company will investigate the accident and determine whether or not to approve your claim.
Workers' compensation benefits typically cover all medical expenses related to treating your injury. You are also eligible for partial lost wages during the time that you are unable to return to the job. These benefits can help you get through a difficult and stressful period following your injury.
A workers' comp lawyer can fight for you
However, initial claims for benefits can be denied. A claim can't be denied because you had only just started working for the employer. Instead, insurance companies will try to find another reason. For example, they may argue that the injury was not work-related or question your injury's seriousness.
If your claim is denied, an experienced New Jersey workers' compensation attorney can help you file an appeal.
The attorneys at Shebell & Shebell, LLC can investigate your accident to get the facts. We build a strong case for benefits and can represent you at all hearings with the Division of Workers' Compensation. We can negotiate a settlement with the insurance company that meets your needs – or fight for you in court if needed.
If you were hurt on your first day of work, talk to one of our experienced attorneys to learn your rights. Contact us to schedule a free consultation. We serve clients in Shrewsbury, Newark, and throughout New Jersey.