New Jersey workers who suffer injuries or occupational diseases on the job are protected by the workers' compensation system, granting them access to a variety of benefits. The benefits from a workers' compensation claim can range from medical care to financial compensation and even death benefits for dependents of those fatally injured at work. Workers' compensation is set up to support injured workers, but it requires you to adhere to certain procedures and deadlines. One of the most important ones is the statute of limitations.
What is New Jersey's statute of limitations for filing a workers' compensation claim?
In New Jersey, injured workers have up to two years from the date of their injury to file such a claim. Missing this deadline can lead to your claim being denied. The statute of limitations ensures that claims are made while evidence is current and memories of the incident are still clear.
The countdown for the statute of limitations varies based on the type of claim. It starts on the day of a workplace injury. For occupational illnesses it begins when the illness is both diagnosed and linked to the job. For example, if a worker develops carpal tunnel syndrome over time due to their work, the statute of limitations would start from the diagnosis date and the determination that the condition is work-related.
If an employee receives informal compensation payments from their employer, the two-year statute of limitations will commence from the date of the last payment. This provision ensures that employers cannot simply delay payments to avoid formal claims.
Filing promptly helps to clearly connect the injury to one's job duties. If the claim is delayed, proving this connection becomes more challenging due to the potential loss of evidence or deterioration of memory over time. The sooner you file, the sooner you can potentially receive benefits.
Do I have to be out of work for a specific time to file a workers' comp claim?
In New Jersey, you can file a workers' compensation claim immediately after a work-related injury. You can also file as soon as you have been diagnosed with an occupational illness. There is no mandatory waiting period before you can file a claim. However, the type of benefits you're eligible for and when they start may vary based on the time you've been out of work.
For temporary disability benefits, you must be unable to work for more than seven days. This includes weekends and holidays. Even though these benefits start after a seven-day waiting period, they apply to the first day of disability if you remain out of work for more than seven days.
For medical benefits, there is no waiting period. You are entitled to receive necessary medical treatment for a work-related injury or illness from the day of the injury or diagnosis, regardless of time off work.
Permanent disability benefits also do not require a waiting period. If your work-related injury or illness leads to permanent impairment, you can file a claim for these benefits. You don't have to be out of work for a specific period.
What if my employer disputes my occupational illness or health condition?
If you have been diagnosed with an occupational illness or health condition, your employer may try to dispute it. For example, they may say that you should have discovered it earlier. It's important to gather medical documentation and expert opinions. They should support the timeline of your diagnosis and the link between your illness and your employment. Medical records, test results, and doctor's statements can serve as evidence.
Other steps you can take include:
- Compiling a record of when you first noticed symptoms and any reports or complaints you made to your employer.
- Establishing a clear timeline of events, such as when your symptoms progressed and when a medical diagnosis was made.
- In some cases, it might be helpful to call on an expert witness. They can testify about the progression of your illness and the plausibility of your timeline.
Should I hire a New Jersey workers' compensation lawyer?
Pursuing a workers' compensation claim in New Jersey is a complex process. Even the smallest error can result in your benefits getting delayed or denied. When you hire a New Jersey workers' compensation lawyer at Shebell & Shebell, LLC, we'll walk you through the application process and handle all the paperwork. We'll work to establish a link between your injury or illness and your workplace. Plus, we'll fight for the workers' comp benefits you deserve. That includes compensation for lost wages, medical expenses, rehabilitation costs, long-term disability, and more.
Ready to file your workers' comp claim? Contact us online or call us for a free consultation.