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Disability Benefits under New Jersey Workers' Compensation Law
New Jersey Workers' Compensation Law
The New Jersey Workers' Compensation Law provides for "no fault" insurance for employees who suffer injuries or occupational diseases on the job. The purpose of this law is to provide medical treatment and/or disability benefits to the employee for work-related injuries and benefits to dependents in case of death, irrespective of the fault of the employer or employee. As a tradeoff for receiving these benefits, the worker is not entitled to bring a civil action against the employer, unless it can be proven that the injury was caused by employer’s intentional acts.
Temporary Total Disability Benefits
These benefits are payable at the rate of 70% of average weekly wage, for a period of up to 400 weeks, to a worker who is unable to work for more than 7 days and is under active medical care. The benefits terminate when the worker is determined by a doctor to be fit enough to return to work or the worker has reached Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI), which means that any additional treatment will not improve medical condition of the worker. The benefits may also terminate if the employer offers a “Light Duty” assignment and the worker, under medical care, refuses to accept such assignment.
Permanent Partial Disability Benefits
These benefits become payable when the injury or illness leads to partial disability of permanent nature. The amount of benefits is calculated on the basis of percentage loss of scheduled or unscheduled type. A scheduled loss involves arms, hands, fingers, legs, feet, toes, eyes, ears or teeth and a non-scheduled loss involves parts or systems of the body not covered under scheduled loss. Since the benefits are based upon type and severity of disability, experts need to be involved to measure and determine the percentage loss. The determination of loss, especially in cases related to non-scheduled losses such as back, heart, lungs etc, is complex in nature and often a cause for dispute.
Permanent Total Disability Benefits
A worker becomes entitled to receive permanent total disability benefits if an injury or illness prevents them from returning to gainful employment of any type. A permanent disability can result from a loss of two major parts of body including eyes, arms, hands, legs or feet or a combination of them. A worker may also become eligible for permanent total disability benefits if any combination of injuries renders them unemployable. The benefits are payable for 450 weeks initially and may continue if the disability exists thereafter. Usually, the disability compensation is payable on a weekly basis; however, in some exceptional cases, a lump sum can also be paid.
Knowing the Law
In a lot of cases, the benefits received under worker’s compensation law may be minimal and not sufficient to cover for the financial burden caused due to injury. Some specific cases may also be eligible for compensation under personal injury laws. It is advisable to consult a workplace accident expert who will be able to suggest the best course of action.