For many hourly workers, every day that an employee isn’t on the job is a day when that employee is not making money. For employees who live paycheck to paycheck, that money is vital.
Fortunately, in New Jersey you should receive back pay for the days that you missed if you missed more than 7 days of work. The first week is called the “waiting week.” As of right now if your disability is related to Covid-19 the seven-day waiting period has been eliminated.
You’ll be paid back pay for your temporary disability benefits once your benefits are awarded.
What is the maximum benefit for lost wages?
The benefit maxes out at 70% of your average weekly wages, or $945, whichever is smaller. You can receive these benefits for a total of 26 weeks. In some cases you may be able to extend the benefit, but you will need to speak to your workers compensation attorney to find out if it’s possible in your case.
You will usually receive money every week via direct deposit.
How long does it take to get workers compensation?
If you’re getting temporary disability benefits you should start receiving checks roughly two weeks after you become eligible for the benefit. While you’re waiting for money you might want to use your FMLA benefits, if you have them available. There’s no waiting period for FMLA, and it can provide some relief while you’re waiting.
Why does temporary disability get denied?
It’s not uncommon for insurers to …Read More
If you are planning to file for worker’s compensation protection after contracting Covid-19 at work, you probably need to plan on getting an attorney right away. Even workers at hospitals and nursing homes are struggling to get compensation after contracting the virus.
For example, in one New Jersey case the widow of a housekeeper at a nursing home is trying to get workers compensation death benefits. Her husband’s employer gave him no PPE. They refuse to cover her husband’s ICU bill or survivor’s pay.
The state senate recently has passed a bill that provides expanded protection to essential employees, creating a presumption that Covid-19 contracted by essential employees is a work-related injury for the purpose of receiving benefits. The bill has not yet been enacted into law. The bill is currently before the Assembly Labor Committee.
The bill would require employers of essential employees who wanted to fight employees on whether Covid is work related to prove, by a “preponderance of evidence,” that they did not contract the disease at work.
The bill includes other protections. For example, if the bill passes, “the amount of time an essential employee is incapacitated or unable to perform their duties as a result of contracting coronavirus disease 2019, or Covid-19, or exposure to the disease or infection and the required time of hospitalization, time of quarantine, or time of self-quarantine shall be considered as on-duty time, and an essential employee shall not be required to use paid leave or any other contractual time-off …Read More
Right now it’s theoretically possible to claim workers compensation if you contract Covid-19 on the job. The problem is proof…you would still have to prove you got Covid there, and not from your other activities. This isn’t impossible, but is really difficult.
A proposed bill, S2380, would change all that, at least for any worker deemed essential.
The bill would be retroactive to March 9 and would include a presumption that if an essential worker gets sick with Covid-19, it happened on the job.
What if my employer made me sign a waiver?
Employer waivers are gaining some popularity right now, but they’re not worth the paper they’re written on. Employers also can’t really make you sign such documents. Some employees feel forced to because they are aware some employers will find other ways to fire them if they don’t, but even those shouldn’t be too worried.
Employers can’t make employees waive their workers compensation rights. They’re protected, and those waivers will not hold water.
Workers fired for refusing to sign would have a case under the Conscientious Employee Protection Act, allowing them to sue their former employers.
What does the presumption mean?
It means instead of you having to prove that you contracted Covid at work, your employer would have to prove that you didn’t.
They would have to do this by a “preponderance of the evidence,” which would be a difficult standard for most employers to meet. At best they could point to safety …Read More
One reason some workers are reluctant to claim workers compensation benefits is they feel as though the accident was their fault. Sometimes anyone can have an off day and work a little clumsily, forget a vital safety precaution, or otherwise create a condition which can lead to an accident or an injury.
Fortunately, New Jersey’s workers compensation system is a no-fault system. For the most part, the only condition you will have to meet to be eligible for benefits is to be injured at work and to report that injury.
What Disqualifies You From Workers Comp?
The first thing that can disqualify you is willful misconduct. That is you were horsing around, abusing alcohol or drugs, or were willfully ignoring or violating company policies. A self-inflicted injury also won’t be covered by workers compensation, i.e., slitting your wrists while you’re in the workplace bathroom.
You can also lose your workers compensation by failing to report the injury in a timely fashion. Some employees do this because they fear retaliation or other consequences. It’s important to remember that retaliating against an employee for claiming workers compensation benefits is against the law.
What is Considered an On-the-Job Injury?
Any injury that occurs while you are working, or while you’re at work. This covers almost any injury that takes place at the workplace location, during working hours, or while performing activities that are within the scope of your employment.
This can even include things you are doing while working from home, so …Read More
While New Jersey is working its way through a phased reopening, there are still plenty of employees who will continue to work from home until a vaccine is found and administered. This has led many who are able to perform their duties in this capacity to wonder whether workers compensation still covers them.
As with many legal questions, the answer is “it depends.” The employee will need to prove that the injury arose out of and in the course of employment.
For office workers, certain repetitive stress injury claims may not be at all impacted by working from home if they can be clearly tied to job duties requiring the employee to type or use a mouse for hours at a time.
You may also find it easier to file a claim if it can be proven that you were doing work at the time of your injury or accident. If you were on a Zoom call and fell out of your chair while reaching for a file then it would be hard to dispute that you were at work and that the injury arose from your employment.
If you paused to pick up one of your children and injured your back you’d have a harder time, even if due to the hour of the day you were technically “at work” at the time of your accident. Picking up your child has nothing to do with work even if you are on the clock, even if your employer is …Read More
Any job can put a lot of stress and strain on the body. In both industrial jobs and office jobs, there are opportunities to incur repetitive stress injuries.
Under New Jersey laws these are known as “wear and tear” injuries. While this terminology may make you feel a little bit like you’re being treated like an apartment or a car, the fact is that the law does allow you to receive compensation when work inexorably robs you of your health. It doesn’t all come down to traumatic accidents or chemical exposure.
Carpal tunnel syndrome is a well-known example, but there are others, such as rotator cuff injuries. Some of these injuries can have a severe impact on a person’s ability to function in their day-to-day lives.
However, you do have to take the appropriate steps to get the compensation you deserve.
First, you’ll need to provide your employer with written notice, just as if you’d suffered from an accident at work. This can be as simple as a dated letter which says, “I have begun experiencing severe wrist pain on the job, the result of a work-related repetitive stress injury. I would like to start the workers compensation process.”
At that point your workplace should assign you to a doctor or a medical facility who will provide you with a diagnosis and treatment. Be sure to bring a copy of your job description with you to your appointment.
Somewhat suspicious of an employer-run clinic? It’s not a bad idea …Read More
Right now, New Jersey workers compensation does allow for claims related to the Covid-19 virus. There’s just one problem.
In most cases, employers and their insurance companies don’t have to pay the claim if you can’t prove there was a direct line from your job to your infection. Because Covid-19 is so ubiquitous, and capable of spreading through asymptomatic carriers, this can be very difficult.
Currently, many essential workers are having to turn to other New Jersey programs liked paid sick leave to try to bridge the gap. For some, this aid will be enough. For others it won’t, especially if the infection lands them in the hospital.
Many essential workers are uninsured, which means Covid-19 could cost them up to $75,000. Going to the ICU or being put on a ventilator is extremely expensive.
In fact, if your symptoms aren’t severe it’s usually best to just isolate at home, drink lots of water, and wait it out, or to use telehealth or other, less expensive services than the ER if you’re not sure.
Nevertheless, workers compensation was created to help pay for worker medical bills when their jobs expose them to a hazard.
Public safety workers like fire fighters, EMTs, nurses, and medical technicians are protected by a presumption that if they contract Covid-19 in the middle of a pandemic while responding to the pandemic then that relationship exists. They’re entitled to workers compensation benefits without having to offer any other proof that the infection came from their …Read More
Many employers will do just about anything to save a buck, even if it means sacrificing employee well-being. If that weren’t the case, there’d be no need for workers compensation lawyers or lawsuits.
Some tricks are common and even expected. You can watch out for them if you’ve taken the time to educate yourself about New Jersey workers compensation law.
Trick #1: Misreporting
After you report your injury to your employer you should receive a First Report of Injury form back from the insurance company. It’s important to scrutinize this document closely to ensure the facts listed on the document match the facts of your case.
Don’t just look at the injury description, since employers sometimes misreport wages too. This is especially common in cases where employees often work overtime. The employers “forget” to include that overtime when calculating average weekly wages.
Trick #2: Failing to Report the Injury Fast Enough
You are responsible for reporting the claim to your employer right away. Your employer is responsible for making the claim with workers compensation.
Some fail to do so fast enough, delaying the process and giving the workers compensation insurance company leverage to deny the claim. Some fail to do it at all, and claim you never reported the injury to them.
Some will try to convince you they shouldn’t report the injury, assuring you they’ll pay your medical bills out of pocket instead of filing the claim. They may even channel you to on-site clinics with doctors …Read More
Here in New Jersey you’re eligible for worker’s compensation benefits if you contract COVID-19 on the job. That’s the good news.
The bad news? This very sneaky virus doesn’t make it easy to prove transmission. Employers are no more eager to pay for claims than they ever were. Already, employer’s lawyers are advising them on how they can work around having to pay for these kinds of claims.
To keep your case strong, think about sharing certain facts with your attorney.
Precautions your employer too, or failed to take, in response to Covid-19.
It’s incredible, but plenty of employers are failing to protect their employees. Right now Whole Foods and Amazon provide fairly famous cases, but they aren’t the only ones who don’t seem to value their employees enough to take precautions.
Document every instance where employers force you to work without PPE, in conditions that place you less than 6 feet from fellow employees or customers, or in stores, shops, or offices where there has been a confirmed case of COVID-19. If employers try to force you to travel during this time or to take other risks, you should document these behaviors as well.
You won’t necessarily use this information unless you contract COVID-19 and your employer starts fighting you on worker’s compensation.
Confirmed cases in your workplace.
Make a note of every confirmed case in your workplace. You should also document any instance in which a customer came in who seemed visibly ill, especially if that customer was …Read More
You may be eligible for workers compensation if you contract COVID-19, or if you’re exposed to it. But where you contract the virus will matter.
You will only be able to use workers compensation if you were exposed on the job. That is, you waited on someone with the virus, or worked with someone who had the virus.
In either case you can use it if health staff told you to self-quarantine as a result, whether you’re showing symptoms of the illness or not. You will have to provide the documentation from the medical doctor who gave the order.
It is also a good idea to be prepared with evidence that the job was the source of the problem. If you were using social distancing off the job, for example, and thus did not come into contact with anyone else, then that would be vital evidence in your COVID-related workers compensation case.
New Jersey is asking you not to apply for benefits if your employer voluntarily pays you during your time off due to COVID-19. Yet you might still need workers compensation for medical care, especially if you end up needing intensive care.
If you were exposed off-the-job there may be other programs that can help you. Earned sick leave, temporary disability, family leave insurance, and the FMLA may all help. If your employer closed due to COVID-19 you should be able to collect unemployment. If there is any way you can work from home the DoL and …Read More