South Jersey Workers’ Compensation Lawyers
Workers are often injured on the job through no fault of their own. They are hurt and do not know what to do next. Some businesses do not understand how to manage workers’ compensation cases, or they may have had trouble with their insurance carriers. Complaints and threats will not resolve the case. Injured workers and their families must understand the coverage to which they are entitled and the options they have.
Injured workers should reach out as soon as possible when they have been injured and require compensation. Someone who has been hired as an independent contractor may have options if they have been hurt, and businesses may need assistance when injuries or insurance coverage brings legal action. A South Jersey workers’ compensation lawyer can review the case, discuss everyone’s options, and litigate the case to court and into appeal, if necessary.
What is Workers’ Compensation Insurance?
Workers’ compensation insurance is mandated by the state when employers hire employees who are not exempt because of their status. Executives, housekeepers, certain salaried employees who provide professional services, and independent contractors cannot be covered by workers’ compensation insurance.
While businesses once used a self-paid system that allowed them to save money for workers’ compensation coverage, these businesses often ask insurance carriers to handle all claims. The workers’ compensation coverage insurance plan is administered by the insurance company as they assume all responsibility for coverage. This is especially important to remember because businesses must collect information from accidents, file insurance claims, and accept reports from injured workers.
Workers’ compensation also uses approved doctors. Employers are asked to post information on approved doctors in the facility. Anyone who has been injured can report their injury and see one of these doctors as soon as possible. Seeking immediate treatment helps create a record of all the care that was needed. Workers who do not report injuries or do not seek medical attention may not be believed by their employers.
Employees who were not informed of their rights should reach out to a workers’ compensation lawyer right away. Businesses that require guidance may also reach out when they must do right by their employees.
Who Qualifies for Workers’ Compensation Coverage?
Workers’ compensation is offered to every non-exempt employee. The insurance plan is a no-fault system that does not judge the employee based on the part they may have played in their accident. Their injuries will still be covered, and the business can proceed as normal.
The only exception is when the employee is not performing their job duties properly or violating local laws. Generally, someone who engaged in horseplay may not be covered. Sadly, some businesses will claim that their injured employees caused their own injuries and violated the regulations governing workers’ compensation insurance. Speak to a workers’ compensation lawyer for assistance when a claim has been denied or an employer has gone to great lengths to secure a denial.
Which Benefits are Provided Through Workers’ Compensation Insurance?
The first step in the workers’ compensation process is reporting the injury to a supervisor. The supervisor must take note of the accident, submit a claim to the insurance company, and allow the worker to receive benefits. The worker can go to any of the approved doctors that cooperate with the workers’ compensation insurance carrier. Those doctor visits are paid for, and the worker will receive payment for all lost wages while they recover.
An employee can receive temporary total disability benefits for up to 400 weeks. At that time, the situation can be re-evaluated. The business or insurance company may request a medical exam to evaluate the employee before that window expires. If workers feel targeted, they may reach out to a workers’ compensation lawyer who can find an unbiased doctor to perform the evaluation.
When it is clear that the worker cannot recover any further, they can either go back to work or go on permanent total disability. A doctor’s report is required for both situations. A doctor can release the injured employee to return to work, or they can show that the disability is so catastrophic that they cannot go back to work or recover further.
Permanent total disability benefits are offered when it is clear that the worker cannot improve any more than they already have. The attending doctor will evaluate the injuries and quantify the disability that the worker experienced. When the worker’s disability rises over a certain threshold, they can qualify for permanent total disability.
These payments can last 450 weeks, but they can also be extended for the rest of the worker’s life if they cannot obtain gainful employment. In some cases, the worker will receive payment for vocational rehabilitation. They can move to a job that pays at or near their previous salary. If that is not possible, the business cannot simply stick the employee at a desk or in a backroom for minimal pay to prevent them from receiving their benefits.
Workers may be killed on the job or die due to their injuries. If this is the case, the worker’s family will receive death benefits to cover lost wages and final expenses. The spouse and minor children of the deceased worker will be paid death benefits. Adult children who are disabled or still depend on the surviving parent are also considered dependents when death benefits have been paid. Children who are enrolled in college can be considered dependents up to the age of 25.
Contact a workers’ compensation lawyer when there are questions about how benefits have been paid or possibly denied.
Who Suffers from Workplace Injuries?
Workplace accidents can occur in a range of industries and situations. When workers are hurt, they might feel as though that is normal for their job. No one, however, should naturally get hurt on the job. The following workers are most often hurt on the job and require assistance:
Truck drivers: These drivers could be involved in accidents at any time, and they drive every day as part of their jobs. Truck drivers also get in and out of their vehicles constantly, check on their loads, climb in trailers, and even help with loading. A truck driver should not look past an injury that occurs on the job, even if they are thousands of miles from home. Call a supervisor to report the injury, seek medical care, and continue work when possible.
Construction workers: These workers could be injured on any worksite, and they must report all injuries to a foreman or supervisor as soon as possible. Other workers on the site need to know how to respond to injuries, including comforting the victim while an ambulance is en route to the site.
Medical workers: These workers are managing health care for patients every day, but they also walk across slippery floors and crowded buildings. A nurse, doctor, orderly, phlebotomist, medical assistant, or even a custodian could slip, fall, or be injured by medical equipment. Medical workers could also be assaulted by patients, and these injuries are covered under workers’ compensation insurance. Stress on the job could also cause compensable injuries.
Office workers: These workers could develop Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, suffer from a repetitive motion injury, or be injured when they slip, fall, or are injured by an office machine. Office workers might also be asked to drive to different locations as part of their job duties, and they could be injured in compensable vehicle accidents.
Public safety officials: These workers could slip, fall, be assaulted, or be involved in a vehicular accident. Stress could cause major health problems, or the public safety officer might be exposed to toxic substances due to the nature of their work. Because public safety workers are often in the field, they feel they do not have time to report injuries or incidents. These workers should take the time to report all injuries no matter how small.
Food service workers: These workers walk on slippery floors and use sharp objects to prepare food every day. Additionally, hot stoves and boiling oil could cause injuries. A retail worker could be involved in a slip and fall accident, be hurt by falling objects, or they might be injured by faulty products they have been asked to demonstrate or sell.
Contact a workers’ compensation lawyer for assistance with these cases. While some of these injuries might seem minor, they should be taken seriously. A minor injury today could worsen if it is not treated right away.
What Common Injuries are Covered Under Workers’ Compensation?
Workplace injuries can range from relatively mild to extreme. Workers must take great care with all their injuries to ensure that they can remain healthy and stay on the job. Even the smallest injury requires medical care, and major injuries must be met with compensation and support from the insurance carrier. Common injuries workers will encounter include:
Slip and falls: A slip and fall accident can happen anywhere, especially in buildings where slippery floors are cleaned throughout the day. Slip and falls can also take place when carpet or flooring is damaged, stairs or stair rails are damaged, or when construction sites have slippery floors or a lack of safety equipment.
Traumatic brain injuries: These injuries can occur when an object falls on the victim or they slip and fall. Even an accident that seems to be benign could result in major brain trauma. Headaches, nausea, lack of coordination, fatigue, a dazed feeling, sleeplessness, mood swings, or an inability to concentrate could occur.
Burns: These injuries are common in restaurants or kitchens, but they can also occur when workers are using heavy machinery. Even a minor burn could become infected and adversely impact the employee’s health.
Eye and ear injuries: These could cause a loss of hearing or sight. There are times, however, when prolonged exposure to loud noises or bright lights could cause a loss of hearing or sight. While workers must wear protective gear, there is no foolproof way to prevent damage from loud noises or bright light. At the first sign of trouble, the worker should report these problems to a supervisor. The worker can seek treatment and guidance from an approved physician before their hearing or vision loss escalates.
Stress: Stress on the job could be so intense that the worker cannot function. This sort of injury would result in mental conditions that must be treated by a therapist or medication. In some cases, prior physical injuries could lead to even greater stress on the job that is difficult to manage. Managers or coworkers may notice mood swings or abnormal behavior that might indicate a decrease in mental wellness.
Electric shocks: These most often occur on construction sites when wires are frayed, or workers are using power tools near standing water. In other cases, a custodian in an office building could be shocked when repairing an electrical outlet. Someone walking through an office building that is under construction could also be electrocuted if they step on a frayed cable. In the end, the owner of the building or the construction company is liable for these injuries.
Back injuries: These injuries occur when lifting too much weight, lighting without proper safety gear, or not lifting with a team. Workers may experience back pain for quite some time before they succumb to a catastrophic injury. This is why workers should report all injuries and seek medical care. While a tiny bit of back pain might seem harmless, a doctor can explain how to avoid back pain in the future, advise the employee of how they have been lifting incorrectly, and even tell the worker what to do in the event they feel back pain again.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and repetitive motion injuries: These can be painful and frustrating. Workers simply assume that they can work through these injuries or that the pain and discomfort will go away on its own. These disorders must be treated before it becomes too painful for the worker to do their job or even complete menial tasks at home.
Exposure to toxic substances: This is one of the more insidious problems that workers will deal with. While the worker may have been exposed to toxic substances, they may not know until many years after. A workers’ compensation lawyer can look into the victim’s toxic exposure and who is liable.
Why Should I Hire a Lawyer?
Injured workers need a lawyer when they have been injured and they are not covered. When workers have been denied coverage, a lawyer can fight the insurance company for coverage that is due. A lawyer will also take phone calls from lawyers, the employer, or the insurance company. Injured workers and their colleagues should try to gather information from the scene of an accident whenever possible. Most people carry smartphones and snapping a few pictures of the accident scene can help paint a picture of how the accident occurred.
Coworkers could testify to how the accident occurred, or they could speak to someone else’s negligence. All this information can be shared with a lawyer, along with medical records during a consultation. Injured workers and their families are advised to:
- Forward calls and letters from another lawyer or insurance company to their own lawyer
- Never call the insurance company or employer to complain
- Never sign anything without a lawyer present
- Never accept a medical exam appointment without assistance
- Never take a new work assignment without speaking to a lawyer
While workers and their families often do not know where to start, they should allow their lawyer to handle everything. A lawyer knows how to talk to everyone involved, and how to frame the case. Injured workers and their families must focus on recovery. A workers’ compensation lawyer will continue to review information pertinent to the case until the case is resolved, settled, or ends in a judgment.
South Jersey Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at Pietras Saracino Smith & Meeks, LLP Represent Injured Workers
Reach out to the South Jersey workers’ compensation lawyers at Pietras Saracino Smith & Meeks, LLP after you have been hurt at work. We only handle workers’ compensation cases, and we have the track record of success you deserve. Call us today at 856-761-3773 or contact us online for a free consultation. Located in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, we serve injured workers throughout South Jersey, including Camden, Cinnaminson, Delran, Maple Shade, and Pennsauken.