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What is workers' compensation and how can it help workers?

Despite workplace safety standards that benefit from technological advances, workers still get injured on the job. For workers and their families, this can be a very difficult time. Besides the physical and emotional pain of being injured, there are also the financial repercussions to worry about. Fortunately, most New Jersey employers provide workers' compensation benefits to their employees if they get injured.

What is workers' compensation? Workers' compensation is an insurance program which provides benefits for workers who are injured on the job or suffer an illness while on job. This insurance is considered "no-fault", which means that a worker can still claim benefits no matter who was at fault. The most common benefits of the program include medical benefits, and, if the accident was fatal, death benefits for the worker's family.

What steps are necessary in order to file a claim? First, the worker should notify a supervisor that he or she requires medical treatment. Once the employer is notified, it should immediately inform its insurance carrier. The workers' compensation claim will then be evaluated by the insurance carrier. If the claim is approved, both the employer and worker will be notified. The worker will then be directed to a designated medical provider for the necessary treatment. In New Jersey, both the employer and insurance carrier have the right to choose the medical provider.

Can injured New Jersey workers file for workers' compensation benefits and also sue an employer? Unfortunately, an injured worker is prohibited from filing a civil legal action if that worker already has filed a claim for workers' compensation benefits. One exception is for intentional acts on the employer's part. For this reason, it is important for workers to consult a legal advocate in order to determine the best course of action for the worker's particular situation.

Source: Department of Labor and Workforce Development, "Injured workers," Accessed on Aug. 21, 2014

Source: Department of Labor and Workforce Development, "Injured workers," Accessed on Aug. 21, 2014

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