Temporary and seasonal employment is common throughout New Jersey and is generally defined as jobs that last a few weeks to a few months.
Employers like to hire temporary workers for seasonal jobs such as lawn care and landscaping in the summer and retail work during the holidays. Employees like temporary work, too, to earn extra cash when they cannot commit to a full-time job or in addition to their full- or part-time job.
But what happens if a temporary worker is hurt while working in a temporary position? Are they entitled to workers’ compensation benefits?
The answer is yes; they can receive benefits just as a permanent worker would and under the same requirements. If they experience a problem securing benefits, these temporary workers should reach out to a seasoned workers’ compensation lawyer.
What is Workers’ Compensation?
Workers’ compensation insurance covers medical bills and other costs for non-exempt employees who are injured on the job.
This insurance is mandatory for employers who hire non-exempt employees. Exempt employees who cannot be covered by workers’ compensation include executives, housekeepers, some salaried employees, and outside contractors. All non-exempt employees are covered.
Most companies hire insurance companies to handle workers’ compensation claims and assume responsibility for the coverage. However, the company itself must still collect information about the accident, file the claim, and accept reports from the workers applying for coverage.
How Does a Worker Qualify for Workers’ Compensation Coverage?
Workers’ compensation is no-fault insurance coverage for non-exempt employees, including seasonal or temporary workers. No-fault means it does not consider the part an employee might have played in the accident that led to the injury.
The exceptions to this are when employees are not performing their job duties or are violating local laws. For example, so-called horseplay on the job can be grounds for non-coverage, and some companies will argue that the employee caused their own injuries because of it. That is one case in which an employee should consult a workers’ compensation lawyer.
What Types of Employees Suffer Workplace Injuries?
Any employee can potentially get hurt on the job. Seasonal and temporary workers may be especially prone to workplace accidents because of their inexperience on the job or the company’s lack of training.
For example, seasonal or temporary workers can be at a disadvantage when it comes to safety procedures, protective equipment, and other best practices that full-time workers are experienced using.
The bottom line is that no one should be hurt while on the job, and employers have a duty to keep all employees safe from harm.
Workers’ compensation claims can happen in any industry or job but are common among the following occupations:
- Construction workers
- Truck drivers
- Warehouse workers
- Factory workers
- Medical personnel
- Public safety officials
- Food service employees
- Office staff
These types of jobs often carry inherent risks, but any job can potentially cause injury.
What are Common Injuries in Workers’ Compensation Claims in New Jersey?
Injuries run the gamut from mild to severe, temporary to lifelong. Any on-the-job injury or illness should be taken seriously from the beginning.
Common workplace injuries include the following:
- Burns: Factory workers and food service workers, especially, are subject to injury caused by burns from open flames, scorching equipment, hot oil, or other causes.
- Slip and fall accidents: Although anyone can slip anywhere, common causes of slips are in workplaces where floors are cleaned often, debris is left out in the open, floors or stairs are not sturdy, or when there are tears or rips in flooring or carpeting. These workplaces include medical settings, construction sites, stores, and warehouses, among others.
- Traumatic brain and head injuries: These injuries can be caused by slip and fall incidents, objects falling from above, lack of protective equipment, and other reasons. Even the slightest head injury can become serious.
- Eye and ear injuries: Sometimes, jobs cause prolonged exposure to loud noises or bright lights. Protective equipment may not preclude vision and hearing injuries.
- Back injuries: Jobs that require lifting, bending, or prolonged standing can result in back injuries. Even the slightest back strain can lead to a more serious or chronic back condition.
- Electric shock: Construction sites and similar workplaces carry the risk of a worker being shocked by unsafe or exposed wiring or using power equipment near water.
- Repetitive motion injuries: Office workers and others who repeat the same movements all day, such as typing, cleaning, or assembling a product, can suffer from carpal tunnel syndrome and similar conditions.
- Stress and anxiety: Some jobs, by their very nature, can cause inordinate stress or anxiety, leading to mental and psychological conditions that require treatment.
- Exposure to toxins: Hospitals, factories, and other workplaces may expose employees to toxic chemicals or other substances that can result in illness or injury.
Any employee that experiences a workplace injury should report it, seek medical treatment per the company’s policies, and contact a workers’ compensation lawyer for guidance.
What Benefits are Offered in Workers’ Compensation Coverage?
In New Jersey, any employee who is injured must immediately report the injury to a supervisor. The supervisor will take an official report of the accident and provide it to the person responsible for filing workers’ compensation claims for the company.
The following benefits are available under workers’ compensation in New Jersey:
- Medical bills: Every insurer provides companies with an approved list of doctors that the employee can use for workplace injuries or illness. An employee who sees the approved doctors can expect that their medical bills will be covered.
- Temporary disability benefits: These benefits are available for those who cannot work for more than seven days because of a work-related illness or injury. They pay 70 percent of the employee’s average weekly wages, with a maximum and minimum that changes annually. Benefits continue until the employee can return to the job, has reached maximum medical improvement, or has received 400 weeks of benefits.
- Permanent total disability benefits: If an employee reaches maximum medical improvement, meaning they will not improve with more care, a doctor will determine if there is a lasting disability and to what extent. If the doctor determines the employee cannot work at all because they are permanently and totally disabled, they will continue to receive the same temporary disability benefits, but for 450 weeks. At that point, the employee will undergo an evaluation to prove that physical or educational rehabilitation did not improve their condition to pre-injury levels. Their benefits will then be extended as long as they are disabled but reduced by wages they can earn, if applicable. Severe injuries, such as loss of both eyes, arms, legs, feet, or a combination thereof, are automatically considered a permanent total disability.
- Permanent partial disability benefits: If the workplace-related injury has left the employee with an impairment, such as a chronic medical condition or lost function, but the employee can still work in some capacity, the employee may be eligible for permanent partial disability benefits. The amount depends on the type of impairment, affected body part, and pre-injury wages.
- Death benefits: If an employee dies from a workplace-related injury or illness, the surviving spouse, minor children, and certain dependents are entitled to death benefits.
- Funeral expenses: New Jersey workers’ compensation will pay up to $5,000 in funeral expenses.
What to Do if Injured in a Workplace Accident as a Temporary Worker?
The first step is to report the accident to a supervisor immediately. If unable to because of injury, coworkers have the responsibility to report it for the injured employee and to call for medical help.
If able to speak after being injured, the worker should provide a complete report of the accident to the supervisor without admitting guilt or responsibility. The worker should state just the facts of the accident and injury. The injured employee should ask for a copy of the insurer’s list of approved doctors and the company’s procedures for seeking medical help and filing a workers’ compensation claim. It is important to follow all procedures.
At this point, it is a good idea to consult with a workers’ compensation lawyer. An experienced workplace injury lawyer can help injured employees understand rights and workers’ compensation coverage. Some employers will try to deny an employee coverage, which is when a lawyer especially should respond on the employee’s behalf.
Cherry Hill Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at Pietras Saracino Smith & Meeks, LLP Fight for the Rights of Injured Workers
Workers’ compensation covers only a portion of lost wages and does not compensate for pain and suffering. Also, some employers will try to deny coverage based on an employee’s actions at the time of the incident. The Cherry Hill workers’ compensation lawyers at Pietras Saracino Smith & Meeks, LLP are available to discuss your legal options. Workers’ compensation is the focus of our firm. We will fight for the compensation every employee who is injured in the workplace deserves, even benefits outside of workers’ compensation. Call us today at 856-761-3773 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation. Located in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, we serve clients in Camden, Cinnaminson, Delran, Maple Shade, Pennsauken, and throughout South Jersey.