Returning back to work after an injury can be a nerve wracking experience. You know that your employer’s interests and your interests may not be aligned.
Yet if you don’t return to work when you are cleared to do so you jeopardize your job, your workers compensation benefits, and any unemployment benefits you could receive if, for whatever reason, your job disappears through no fault of your own.
Here’s what you need to know.
You have the right to have your restrictions respected.
Talk to your doctor about what your old job entailed so that he can make the most useful list of restrictions possible. We recommend getting a written acknowledgement from your employer to indicate that they understand these restrictions and are able to work with them.
Make sure you get them in writing. Carry copies of the restrictions with you.
Don’t be afraid to hand them to your supervisor whenever you are asked to violate them, and don’t be afraid to document each incident of violation.
You have the right to a light duty posting if one exists, or to reasonable accommodations.
Employers do not have to provide a light duty posting if no light duty posting exists, but if one does or they can reasonably accommodate it than they must do so. There is no guarantee that the light-duty role will be full time or at your old rate of pay, but you must take it or jeopardize your benefits. Sometimes you can receive partial …Read More
Here’s what you need to know.
Do you still report workers compensation on your tax returns?
No. Unless you meet one of the taxable exceptions listed below, you do not even have to report your workers compensation payouts.
It’s always a good idea to speak to an accountant before making assumptions, but you’re not even going to receive a tax form that tells you these benefits have been reported to the IRS.
Are there taxable exceptions?
There are a few taxable exceptions.
For example, some of our clients have ended up with workers compensation claims that were, at first, denied. So they paid their own medical expenses, claimed those on their tax return, and then later got reimbursed.
They will end up having to pay the difference between the taxes they would have paid without the deduction and the taxes they did pay. This is rarely a very large amount.
If you get SSI Sor SSDI in addition to your workers comp benefits then your workers comp benefits can be taxed.
What about lump sum settlements?
Lump sum settlements work in about the same way. They aren’t taxable unless you trigger the specific exceptions above, plus one more.
That is: if you put your lump sum settlement into an investment account and earn interest on that money then …Read More
Getting into a car accident is always stressful, whether you’re driving a company vehicle or not. It’s easy to do things which could come back to bite you later.
Yet if you keep your cool, you should be protected and covered regardless of whether or not you were at-fault for the accident. You were on the job, which means you’re covered by workers compensation law.
Avoid Admitting Fault
You aren’t personally liable when you’re in a car accident on the job. Your employer is liable. New Jersey is also a no-fault state for car accidents, which means each party’s liability insurance company pays the other.
Nevertheless, employers have a way of making things interesting. For example, if you’re a trucker you might want to be prepared for your employer to suddenly declare you an independent contractor. You don’t want to set yourself up for liability in this case. They may claim you were simply traveling to and from work and so aren’t covered under workers compensation law. They may claim all kinds of things.
In addition, you want an employer who is going to try to work with you on workers compensation, not one that will be trying not to find reasons to pay. If you make life a little easier on them by watching what you say you might find the process to be a lot smoother later down the line.
Just stick to the facts. Avoid making apologies.
Contact the Police
In New Jersey you have …Read More
Experts predict that remote work is here to stay.
While remote work is covered by worker’s compensation, it can create unique challenges for employees who are injured on the job.
What are the most common remote worker injuries?
The most common remote worker injuries are repetitive stress injuries. RSIs might include:
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
- Ulnar tunnel syndrome
- Back pain
- Neck pain
The correlation is of course that most people who work at home are doing the same work they could be doing in the office. This is work that typically involves lots of typing and sitting at your desk.
Stress and mental health injuries are also common.
What’s different about a remote worker injury?
You’ll have to prove you were acting in your employer’s interests at the time of the injury. You also need to be able to prove that you followed your employer’s policies.
For example, if your employer has provided ergonomic equipment for use in your home office then you need to be able to show you were using that work station but developed RSIs anyway.
EHS Today recommends that employers provide each worker with a safety checklist. Telework.gov also provides one. If you haven’t been injured at work yet it may be best to follow the checklist and to obtain some ergonomic equipment of your own. Living without a painful injury is always preferable to filing a workers compensation claim!
Proving the Injury was Work Related
Even a slip and fall in your own home …Read More
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, over 5,000 workers die on the job every year, leaving their survivors to carry on without them.
When your spouse dies on the job you, the surviving spouse, may be entitled to a workers compensation death benefit. As with workers compensation for surviving injured and disabled workers, the death benefit system exists in New Jersey to provide for families while protecting employers from the possibility of a personal injury lawsuit.
This means you may get some money to support your family while you adjust to the loss of your loved one.
Who is eligible for death benefits?
In general, you may only claim a death benefit if you are the surviving, actively married spouse of a worker who died on the job, or a dependant child who lived in the worker’s household at the time of death. Surviving children may also qualify as dependents if they are full-time students under the age of 23. Dependent children who are older may also qualify if they are severely mentally or physically disabled.
In some cases parents or siblings of the workers may make a claim if they can prove they were dependents, regardless of whether or not they were living in the worker’s home. An example may be a disabled brother or sister whom the worker was supporting in a home of their own.
How much are death benefits in New Jersey?
Death benefits include medical bills and funeral expenses up to $3500.
You …Read More
A workers compensation settlement isn’t like a personal injury settlement. There are typically some limits on how much it can pay out.
Nevertheless, you’ll rely on that settlement to live. It behooves you to do what you can to make it as large as possible.
Here’s what you need to do.
Be careful what you say.
You have to report your injury to your employer, but stick only to the facts. Later, you might want to talk to an attorney right away, because the workers compensation insurance adjuster may try to speak to you and may try to trip you up while they do.
When you do have to speak about your injury or write about it, be concise. Make sure your statements are factual and to the point.
Don’t give unlimited medical authorizations.
The medical authorization you sign should specifically state that you are only releasing medical records related to your work injury. Rest assured the insurance company will try to go through the records and find any excuse they can to conflate your injury with pre-existing conditions or even older injuries.
If the insurance adjuster tries to pressure you into signing their authorization form then speak to your attorney right away.
Document all of your medical visits. Keep track of your bills. Document the ways the accident has impacted your life. Need cleaning services now because you can’t clean your own house? Document that and keep the receipts.
Act as though you’re being watched.
You probably …Read More
In some accident and injury cases it is necessary to prove the other party was negligent before you can recover any form of compensation. This is not the case in a New Jersey workers compensation case.
Instead, it is only necessary to prove that the injury or illness arose as a result of your activities and presence in the workplace.
This is part of the bargain that was made between New Jersey workers and employers when the workers compensation system first came into existence. Workers would lose the right to sue employers for negligence and employers would pay for injuries and illnesses sustained at work regardless of whether or not the employee played a role in causing those injuries.
As always when the law is involved, there are of course both complications and exceptions that you should be aware of.
Exception #1 – You Were in Violation of Certain Policies
Employers may deny workers compensation when the employee was found to be in violation of clearly established safety policies that would have prevented the injury.
This includes policies about horseplay and assault. If an employee is engaged in unsafe behavior, is engaged in workplace violence, or is playing around in a way that causes an injury the employer will often have a case for denying workers compensation.
Exception #2 – You Need to Prove a Third Party Contributed to Your Injury
When a third party contributes to your injury you will often be able to launch a personal injury …Read More
A Section 20 is one of two types of settlements that may be awarded in a New Jersey worker’s compensation case. The other type is called a Section 22.
Here’s what you need to know about both types of settlement.
Section 22 Settlements
A Section 22 settlement is a settlement wherein the employer pays for a portion of your disability. The percentage would be a percentage of what would be paid out for a body part over time, i.e., 30% of the knee, with amounts set by the New Jersey body part schedule.
In a Section 22 settlement the employer does admit that the injury to that body part happened on the job. A Section 22 does allow for the modification of claims as necessary
Section 20 Settlements
A Section 20 is a one-time lump sum payment and is considered a full and final dismissal of the claim. You accept one dollar amount that ends your case forever. The employer accepts no liability for your accident. They’re essentially saying, “We don’t agree this is a work injury, but we’ll pay you to avoid arguing about it or litigating it.”
A Section 20 is only allowed in cases where there is a “genuine issue of dispute.” This means there may be a dispute as to whether there was a real link between your work and the injury, which is the most common type of dispute. Other genuine issues could include issues as to whether you are classified as …Read More
A “reopener” is an informal term for a modification of a workers compensation claim. Either party can request a modification after a workers compensation claim settles.
No party has an unlimited right to reopen a workers compensation claim. The modification may only be requested up to two years after the last time compensation was paid, or from the date of an awarded Judgement.
When may an employee reopen a workers compensation claim?
An employee may reopen a workers compensation claim when one of the following is true:
- They need additional treatment for the same work-related injury.
- They have lost additional time as a result of the same work-related injury.
- They need an increase to the amount of permanent partial disability that they’re receiving.
In other words, somewhere along the way your condition got worse. This can happen even if you’ve reached maximum minimal improvement (MMI) as MMI is a measure as how much your condition will ever improve, not a guarantee that your condition will never deteriorate.
When may an employer reopen a workers compensation claim?
An employer might seek to modify the workers compensation claim when they have reason to believe your disability has diminished. They may also do so in cases where they believe that you are working for another employer while continuing to receive benefits.
How can an employee prove they need a modification of a workers compensation claim?
You will have to provide medical evidence that your condition has gotten worse. This can include:
Your doctor has restricted you to limited work hours, or has given you specific work restrictions which indicate how much lifting, walking, or other actions you may take on the job. In many cases an employer will offer you “light duty” work while you continue to recover.
In most cases you have no choice but to accept a light duty post. Yet that does not mean you do not have rights when you go on light duty. Here’s what you need to know.
#1) You may be entitled to vocational training.
If an employer tries to assign you to a light duty role that you are not qualified for you may have to take it, but your employer may also be obligated to train you for it so that you can do the job.
The employer can not put you into a job you have no idea how to do and then fire you for being unable to do the work.
#2) Your employer may not assign you part-time work for less pay than your temporary disability rate.
Some employers have used light duty as an excuse to drastically cut an employee’s pay. They turn the light duty position into a part time role for a lower rate than the employee used to receive.
New Jersey courts have ruled that your employer may not pay you less than the temporary disability rate for this work.