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Workers' Compensation and Third-Party Claims

  • July 05, 2022
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 If you’ve been injured on the job, you need a law firm that can not only handle your workers’ compensation claim but one that can also identify and pursue any potential third-party claims that should be brought on your behalf. You may not be maximizing your recovery from a work-related injury if you overlook the potential for a third-party claim.

Selem Antonucci Law is uniquely qualified to handle both your workers’ compensation and third-party claims. While these cases are heard in two different court systems under two entirely different sets of rules, our attorneys are Certified by the Supreme Court of New Jersey in both Workers Compensation Law and Civil Trial Litigation. We’ve been certified as having the requisite skill, expertise, and experience necessary to handle your case and maximize your recovery in both court systems.

WORKERS' COMPENSATION CLAIMS:

When you accept employment, you surrender your common law rights to sue your employer or your co-employees for negligence. This occurs by operation of law, whether you were made aware of it or not. In exchange for having that right taken away, you are entitled to receive a more limited set of workers’ compensation benefits whenever you are injured at work, regardless of who is at fault for the accident and even if the accident was your own fault.

For an injured employee, workers’ compensation benefits are limited to 1) Medical Benefits; 2) Temporary Disability Benefits; and, 3) Permanent Disability Benefits.

  • Medical Benefits – When you are injured while working, your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance is responsible for the payment of your medical bills, not your health or auto insurance. Workers’ Compensation pays 100% of your medical bills with no deductibles or co-payments, but you must go to the doctors that the workers’ compensation insurance company chooses for you.
  • Temporary Disability Benefits – When you are under the care of a doctor who, as part of your medical treatment and in order to get better, wants you to remain out of work for 7 days or more, you are entitled to receive Temporary Disability Benefits to replace the wages lost while you are out of work. This is 70% of your gross weekly wages up to a maximum of $1065 per week (for injuries occurring in the year 2022).
  • Permanent Disability Benefits – Money to compensate you for the permanent loss of function to the injured body part that the doctors could not restore you after all medical treatment has been rendered.

These benefits are determined by a workers’ compensation judge, not a jury. The Judge does not even determine the amount of money that you receive for your permanent disability. Rather, the Judge merely determines the percentage of functional loss sustained to the injured body part. The amount of money that percentage of lost function translates into is determined by New Jersey Statutes.

While at first, these workers’ compensation benefits may seem pretty comprehensive, they do not include many things that an injured person usually expects to recover. Not included is any money to compensate you for pain and suffering, economic damages such as a loss in your ability to earn money, or a per quod claim for your spouse.

THIRD-PARTY CLAIMS

Sometimes you can have two cases arising out of one accident. If your work-related injury happens to be caused by someone who you did not surrender your common law right to sue, someone not related to you by employment, a “third-party”, then you can file an ordinary lawsuit against that party in addition to your workers’ compensation claim.

For example, workers who are injured in an automobile accident may have a third-party claim against the other driver who was at fault. Workers injured because of a dangerous condition on the property of a customer may have a third-party claim against the owner of the property. Workers who suffer a machine injury may have a third-party claim against the company that manufactured the defective machine that caused their injury.

It takes an attorney who is knowledgeable in this particular area of the law, who is able to analyze the facts and circumstances of your particular case, to recognize the potential for a third-party claim, which may not always be so obvious.

A viable third-party claim enables you to go before a jury and ask for everything that you have already received in workers’ compensation, and far more. The amount of money that you receive to fairly compensate you for your permanent disability, pain, and suffering, economic loss, etc… is determined by a jury of your peers. With a skilled civil trial attorney presenting your case, these jury verdicts can far exceed the amount of money to which you are entitled in the workers’ compensation courts.

Although your workers’ compensation claim and your lawsuit proceed separately and independently of each other through two different court systems, they become very much related and intertwined in the end when it comes to your monetary recovery. The workers’ compensation insurance company wishes you great success in your third-party claim, because they are entitled to be reimbursed for all of the workers' compensation benefits they have paid you from the proceeds of that claim, and you keep the amount that is left over. This reimbursement process can be very complicated at times. The attorneys at Selem Antonucci Law have particular skill and expertise in this reimbursement process and teach other attorneys about it for the New Jersey Institute of Continuing Legal Education.

At Selem-Antonucci Law, we handle both your Workers' Compensation and Third-Party Claims under one roof. We coordinate our efforts and strategize in the handling of your claims in order to maximize your overall recovery.

 

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