Is Your Recovery Limited to Workers’ Compensation Benefits?
New Jersey workers’ compensation laws, like those in all states, were enacted to provide benefits to both workers and employers. Workers can avoid the time and expense of civil litigation and start receiving benefits within a few weeks (provided the claim is approved). Employers are free from the whims of sympathetic juries, as workers’ comp benefits are fixed, based on the worker’s average weekly wage for the past year.
The workers’ compensation laws were enacted to address situations where an injury is caused by the carelessness or negligence of an employer or a co-worker. Often, though, an employee’s injuries are caused, in whole or in part, by the wrongful acts of a third party—such as a driver of a motor vehicle, the manufacturer of a dangerous or defective product, or an employee on an adjacent work site. Can you still seek workers’ compensation benefits if your injuries are not caused by your employer or a co-worker? If so, are you limited to the benefits available through a workers’ comp claim?
New Jersey Workers’ Compensation Eligibility Requirements
To qualify for workers’ comp in New Jersey, you must show two things:
- you were injured; and
- the injury occurred during the course of your employment.
As a general rule, it doesn’t matter who caused the accident, as long as it was not intentionally self-inflicted.
Third-Party Claims for a Work Injury
If your work injury is caused, in any way, by the wrongful acts of a third party, you have the right to file a civil lawsuit against that third party for any losses suffered. In fact, you can file a workers’ compensation claim simultaneously with a civil suit. Damages in a civil suit are not limited to your income but can also include compensation for pain and suffering, loss of companionship or consortium, and loss of enjoyment of life. You can’t recover for losses in a civil suit if you’ve already received benefits for those same losses through a workers’ comp claim. It’s also important to understand that a civil action can drag on for years before you see any payout.
Contact the Cintron Firm
At the Cintron Firm, LLC, we offer more than 14 years of experience to people in New Jersey facing a broad array of legal challenges. Attorney Mark Cintron has worked as a prosecutor and has extensive courtroom experience, so he’s always ready, willing, and able to protect your interests before a judge or jury. Contact our office online or call us at 201-791-1333 or (201) 535-0323 to set up an appointment.