Our South Jersey worker’s compensation attorneys at Puff, Sierzega & MacFeeters strive to protect the rights of injured workers. Jonathan R. Ivans, with over 25 years experience in workers’ compensation heads our personal injury and workers’ compensation team.
Our team understands that the workers’ compensation laws in New Jersey are intricate and fact-specific. To that end, it is our duty to our clients that each case be handled carefully and with the personal standard of care that our clients have grown accustom.
Our mission begins and ends with our clients. We understand that your health and employment are among the most important aspects of your life. As such, our team of attorney’s and staff will zealously represent your workers’ compensation claim to receive the maximum compensation and ensure future protection for our clients.
Our team will work to ensure that your rights will be upheld by your employer. As an employee in a work related injury, you can be entitled to three main types of benefits, which may include medical treatment, temporary disability benefits (wage replacement), and permanent disability benefits. In addition, nn injury on the job may entitle you to both workers compensation benefits and the right to sue another party for your injury or loss. We welcome you to consult our experienced attorneys if you think you have a workers’ compensation case.
The three main types of entitlements in workers’ compensation cases include the following:
- Medical Treatment
- The employer’s workers’ compensation insurance carrier is responsible to pay for all curative medical treatment for the injury. This is the treatment that, by objectively measurable standards, improves the condition of the employee, bringing him or her back closer to their condition prior to the accident. This is as compared to palliative treatment, which makes the employee feel better subjectively, rather than improving his or her condition. In return for this obligation to pay for all medical treatment, the insurance company has the right to control the treatment and send the employee to whichever health care provider they want. Thus, the employee, although entitled to have all curative treatment paid for, does not have the right to use his or her own family physician (unless the insurance carrier approves said physician).
- Temporary Disability Benefits (Wage Replacement)
- Many times an employee is unable to work during the period of time that curative treatment is being rendered. If that is the case, the treating physician issues a Certificate of Disability, and the insurance company is then obligated to pay the employee 70% of the employee’s gross weekly wages up to a cap of $496.00 (for disabilities which result in injuries sustained in 1997). This right to temporary disability benefits accrues once the employee has been out of work for at least seven days as a result of treatment for the sustained injury.
- Sometimes a physician will send an employee back for “light duty” during the course of treatment. This means that the doctor feels that the employee can go back to work, as long as certain restrictions are observed in what that employee does in the workplace. For example, someone who has sustained a back injury may be limited in the amount of weight he or she can lift. The employer is obligated to provide light duty to the employee if it is available. This provision is in the law to allow employees to earn 100% of their gross weekly wages during the period of treatment, if possible, rather than 70% subject to a cap. If the employer has no light duty for the employee, the employee can then go back on full disability and receive temporary disability benefits until released to go back to work without restrictions by the physician or until curative treatment ends.
- Permanent Disability Benefits
- It may be, upon completion of curative treatment, that the employee is still restricted to what he or she can do in his or her professional and/or personal life. If so, the injury has created a permanent disability that cannot be corrected through curative treatment. Upon release from treatment, the employer’s insurance company has up to six months (26 weeks) to have the employee examined by a separate physician to determine whether there are any objective medical indicators that would show permanency to the injury. The employee is also entitled to have his or her own examining physician determine the degree of permanency.
- The degree of permanent disability is expressed as a percentage of total. In other words, an employee does not have to be totally and completely disabled by an injury; he can be partially disabled. Once the employee and the employer’s insurance company agree upon a percentage of total disability (or once a judge in workers’ compensation court has ruled as to the percentage of permanent disability), a total dollar figure for such permanency corresponding to that percentage and the part of the body injured can then paid out over a pre-determined number of weeks starting from the date of release from treatment. This figure is fixed based on the percentage of disability and the body part affected regardless of any individual pain and suffering experienced by the employee as a result of the accident.
Our attorneys have handled hundreds of workers’ compensation cases, including a wide variety matters from settlements to complex litigation. Our attorneys and staff are experienced in handling all work-related injuries. We have the experience and resources to handle all workers’ compensation cases.
To schedule a consultation or to speak with one of our attorneys to discuss your case, please call (856) 845 – 0011 or email our office at email@example.com.