New Jersey Workers’ Compensation Attorneys
Experienced Lawyers Helping Injured Workers for Generations
When you’ve been hurt in a workplace accident, it impacts you and your family. Suddenly, you are left with an injury and there is less money coming in. You deserve workers’ compensation benefits but navigating the claims process can be complicated. The experienced, New Jersey workers’ compensation attorneys at Shebell & Shebell, LLC fight for the rights of injured workers.
New Jersey law requires virtually all employers in the state to insure against employee injury. If you are injured on the job, blindly trusting your employer and their insurance carrier to compensate you for your injury can be a mistake. Insurance companies are for-profit entities and want to protect their own bottom line.
That’s why you need an experienced workers' compensation lawyer to fight for you. Failing to obtain quality legal representation can have serious financial repercussions and impact your family’s future. Our workplace injury attorneys have been helping workers hurt in Monmouth County, Ocean County, and throughout New Jersey since 1927. We know the laws and how to help you get the benefits you deserve.
What does workers’ compensation cover?
Workers’ compensation provides benefits to employees who sustain a work-related injury or illness. If you qualify for workers’ compensation benefits in New Jersey, you may receive:
- Medical Benefits to pay for the cost of your medical treatment.
- Temporary Total Disability Benefits that equal 70 percent of your average weekly wages, up to a state set maximum which changes every year.
- Permanent Partial Benefits if you suffer a permanent physical impairment as a result of your work-related injury or occupational illness.
- Permanent Total Benefits if you suffer a permanent disability that prevents you from returning to any type of gainful employment.
- Death Benefits for the dependents of workers who pass away in a work-related accident or due to a work-related illness.
A complete list of workers’ compensation benefits available to sick or injured workers in New Jersey can be found at the State of New Jersey’s Department of Labor and Workforce Development.
How long do you have to file a workers’ comp claim?
The deadline to file for workers’ compensation benefits is two years from the date you sustained your work injury. This is known as the statute of limitations. For workplace injuries that take longer to develop (i.e., repetitive motion injuries) and occupational illnesses, you have two years from the date that you first became aware that your condition was job-related to file for workers’ comp benefits.
These deadlines are outlined and explained in New Jersey Revised Statutes, Title 34, Chapter 15:41 (Claims barred after two years, 34:15-41). If you are not sure if you meet the statute of limitations deadline requirements in New Jersey, talk to an attorney as soon as possible. Otherwise, you could miss out on the benefits you’re entitled to.
How do I apply for workers’ compensation benefits in New Jersey?
There are several steps you need to follow when filing a workers’ compensation claim in New Jersey, in most cases:
- Seek immediate medical care. You must report your incident to your employer immediately. You could have a life-threatening injury. By seeking medical treatment from a doctor, you will also create a record of your injury. This is especially important when applying for workers’ compensation benefits.
- Follow your doctor’s instructions. Failure to do so could slow your recovery and harm your benefits application. Insurance companies often look for any excuse to deny claims. Not following your doctor’s advice is a common reason why insurance companies deny injury claims or stop providing benefits.
- Tell your employer you sustained a work-related injury or illness. There are certain time frames which are required in the law; sometimes reporting must be made as soon as within 48 hours of your injury for hernia claims, and there are other notice requirements for other types of injuries. You should immediately report any injury that happens at work. You should also speak with a worker’s compensation lawyer to go over your notice requirement in more detail.
- Make sure your employer files a formal workers’ compensation claim on your behalf by notifying the New Jersey Division of Workers’ Compensation. Your employer must submit a First Report of Injury (FROI) form to the state within 21 days of you notifying your employer of your occupational injury or illness.
- Your employer’s insurance company will then make the initial decision to accept or reject your application for workers’ compensation benefits.
These are just a few of the initial steps in the claims process in New Jersey. There may be many additional steps depending on whether your employer and your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance company approve or accept your request for benefits. Either way, you should talk to an experienced attorney to make sure you’re applying for and receiving the maximum benefits you’re legally entitled to receive as a sick or injured worker.
What if the accident was my fault?
Workers’ compensation follows a no-fault system, which means in most cases you can still receive workers’ compensation benefits for a work-related injury – even if the accident that caused the injury was your fault. There are exceptions. For example, if you were injured while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or if you intentionally harmed yourself.
How do I reopen a workers’ comp case after it’s been closed?
In some situations, if your workers’ compensation case was closed but you’re still not ready to go back to work due to your workplace injury or occupational illness, you have two years to reopen your workers’ comp case. If you received a lump sum payment in the form of a Section 20 settlement, you will not be able to reopen your workers’ comp case since the order is final and conclusive.
Section 22 settlements are paid in installments and based on partial permanent disability of a body part. While they may be reopened, you still must do so within two years of receiving your final payment.
Most injured workers assume there’s nothing more that can be done once their case is closed, but there are some exceptions. A good way to find out if you might qualify to have your workers’ comp case reopened is to contact our law firm to set up a free consultation with one of our experienced workers’ compensation attorneys.
Can I choose my own doctor after a work injury?
For those pursuing workers’ compensation benefits in New Jersey, the answer is no. Under state law, any doctor or specialist that you see to have your workplace injury treated will be selected by your employer’s insurance carrier.
While visiting a doctor or specialist that you are unfamiliar with may not be ideal, it doesn’t necessarily mean you will be denied wage or medical benefits if you have issues during your evaluation or treatment. If you were injured at work in New Jersey and need to have an independent medical examination (IME) by an insurance company doctor, a lawyer can explain your rights and help you prepare for the appointment. A hurt-at-work attorney can also help you pursue a second opinion from a different doctor or specialist, if necessary.
Can you get fired for filing a workers’ comp claim?
Absolutely not. If you suffer a work-related injury or illness and file a workers’ compensation claim, it is illegal for your boss to fire you for that reason. Keep in mind that your employer also can’t take retaliatory or discriminatory actions against you because you decided to exercise your legal right to pursue workers’ comp benefits.
Common examples of discrimination and retaliation include:
- You are terminated or demoted by your employer.
- Your boss changes your job duties.
- Your employer changes your work schedule.
- Your boss tries to make you take a pay cut.
- You are unfairly denied pay raises and/or promotions.
If your employer fires you or you believe you are the victim of retaliation because you filed a workers’ comp claim, contact a lawyer right away. An attorney can protect your rights and explain your legal options.
What happens if my workers’ comp claim is denied?
Under New Jersey law, you have the right to a trial before a workers’ comp judge when your claim is denied.
The steps in the trial process include:
- Informal hearings
- Formal hearings
- Legal action in state court
While you are not legally required to hire a lawyer for representation, it is not advisable to represent yourself in these proceedings. Based on the evidence, such as medical evaluations and witness statements, a workers’ comp lawyer can build a strong case on your behalf and fight for the best possible outcome.
Which New Jersey workers’ compensation court has jurisdiction over my case?
New Jersey has 15 workers’ compensation courts. The courts are organized geographically and serve different parts of the state. The Newark Workers’ Compensation Court, for example, at 124 Halsey Street, serves Essex County. The Freehold Workers’ Compensation Court at 2 Paragon Way serves Monmouth County. Other New Jersey workers’ compensation courts are located in:
- Atlantic City Workers’ Compensation Court (serving Cape May and Atlantic Counties)
- Bridgeton Workers’ Compensation Court (serving Cumberland and Salem Counties)
- Camden Workers’ Compensation Court (serving Camden and Gloucester Counties)
- Hackensack Workers’ Compensation Court (serving Bergen County)
- Jersey City Workers’ Compensation Court (serving Hudson County)
- Lebanon Workers’ Compensation Court (serving Somerset, Hunterdon and the southern half of Warren County)
- Arlington Workers’ Compensation Court (serving Sussex, Morris and the northern half of Warren County)
- Mount Holly Workers’ Compensation Court (serving Burlington County)
- New Brunswick Workers’ Compensation Court (serving Middlesex and eastern Somerset County)
- Paterson Workers’ Compensation Court (serving Passaic County)
- Plainfield Workers’ Compensation Court (serving Union County)
- Toms River Workers’ Compensation Court (serving Ocean County)
- Trenton Workers’ Compensation Court (serving Mercer County)
If you need to appear in court before a New Jersey workers’ compensation judge for any reason, you have the right to have an attorney present with you who can represent you in court. This is why it’s important to meet with a lawyer right away who can advise you on the best legal strategy. Our lawyers also can assist you with virtual court appearances while Courts are closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
How long does it take to get your first check from workers’ comp?
For temporary disability benefits, it generally takes two weeks to receive a payment. There is a 7-day waiting period before temporary disability has to be paid. If your payment is delayed unreasonably or negligently by your employer or their insurance carrier for at least 30 days, you may be eligible to receive sanctions or penalties imposed by the Judge based on the amount that’s due, plus any reasonable legal fees you incur as a result of the delay.
If you have not received a benefits check within 30 days or longer, notify the Office of Special Compensation Funds (OSCF) in Trenton, New Jersey. The OSCF enforces the state’s workers’ compensation laws and makes sure that companies and insurance providers comply with such rules and regulations. Your attorney can assist with your formal complaint and deal directly with the OSCF on your behalf, particularly if the OSCF initiates and formal compliance enforcement investigation. Our attorneys are experienced in filing motions with the Court based on employers’ failure to pay temporary disability, and we understand how devastating the financial impact can be when the payments aren’t made.
Extensive Workers’ Compensation Experience You Can Trust
Injuries can happen at any type of workplace. Work accidents affect every type of worker, from construction workers, firefighters, warehouse employees, drivers, teachers, office workers, factory workers and many more. Injured workers are often left in pain and are unable to work. This results in less income coming in, just as their medical bills are going up if they fail to pursue workers’ compensation benefits. It’s a difficult time for workers and their families.
Whether you are a utility worker, a municipal worker, or a first responder, the workers’ compensation system is social legislation designed to help injured workers get medical treatment and provide them with partial wages while they can’t work. In reality, many workers don’t receive the treatment they need. There are several reasons for this, but mostly it is based on the for-profit insurance company trying to keep as much money for themselves as possible. It’s far too common for a treatment or medication recommended by the treating doctor (who, remember, is someone the insurance company picked in the first place) to be denied by the insurance company as not “reasonable or necessary.” Getting a referral to a specialist or approval for procedures such as surgery can be a nightmare. We fight the insurance company at every turn.
The same is true of your return to work. Too many injured workers are pressured to return to work before they have fully recovered from their injuries, or denied the reasonable accommodations needed to return to work with a temporary or permanent disability. You don’t have to just push through the pain. You need an advocate who knows the system to help you move your career forward, especially if you have work restrictions as a result of your injury.
Our workers’ compensation lawyers help injured workers in New Jersey fight back. We investigate your workplace accident to get the facts about what happened. We document your injuries and your medical treatment – every procedure, every follow-up visit, we get the records from the insurance company to get you the treatment real doctors think you need. If your claim for benefits is denied, we help you navigate the appeals process and present strong cases on your behalf.
Our firm has been representing injured people throughout New Jersey since 1927, and our nearly 100 years of providing a service to our community has given us elite experience to use on your behalf. Our firm has successfully represented thousands and thousands of injured workers, and our team of worker’s compensation attorneys and support staff are there for you at any time to help guide you through the process. Don’t go it alone. We truly care about injured people and getting them the treatment and compensation they deserve.
Call Us Today About Your Claim
You may hear that you don’t need a lawyer to file a workers’ compensation claim. Technically, that’s true, but the reality is that not having a lawyer makes it easier for the insurance companies to deny you benefits. Insurance companies have lawyers looking out for their best interests. You need a work injury attorney who is only thinking about what’s best for you.
Since our firm began doing business in 1927, our focus has been on helping injured workers get the treatment they need to get better and the benefits they need to get by. We know how employers and their insurance companies try to avoid their responsibility and pay injured workers less. Our attorneys know how to fight the insurance companies and get results.
If you were hurt at work, learn more about how we can help. Contact us to schedule a free consultation with one of our experienced, New Jersey workers’ compensation attorneys. We’ll review the details of your accident, answer your questions, and explain your options. Then we can get to work to help you get the benefits you deserve. Our offices are located in Shrewsbury and Newark, NJ.