The construction industry is filled with difficult and dangerous jobs requiring the skill of specially-trained workers. Each worker at a job site has a specific role that others count on to complete the project in a timely cost-efficient manner. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for construction accidents to happen, and when they do, the injuries can be quite serious – even fatal.
In this difficult economy many workers are living paycheck to paycheck, and cannot afford to miss time from work. Surprisingly, many workers do not know what to do if they are injured while on the job, or what will happen if they need treatment for their injuries.
For many injured construction workers in New Jersey, the workers’ compensation system is the exclusive remedy that is available to them. The system was designed to give those injured on the job quick access to compensation, even if the employee accidentally caused his or her own injury. In exchange, workers are not allowed to file a lawsuit against their employers for additional damages, unless special conditions are present.
Workers’ Compensation Eligibility
In order to be eligible to receive temporary disability benefits, a worker must miss seven days of work. The seven days need not be consecutive. Medical benefits and permanency disability workers’ compensation benefits are still due regardless of how many days of work are missed. The system will begin to provide compensation to the injured worker, going back to when the injury actually occurred. The system provides benefits to workers in the form of compensation for medical bills and missed time from work.
If an on-the-job injury occurs, it is extremely important for an injured worker to report this information as soon as possible. Failure to notify an employer of an injury can result in workers’ compensation being denied. Often, employees are concerned about reporting their injuries, feeling that this could jeopardize their employment status. An employer is not allowed to terminate someone because he or she filed a workers’ compensation claim. If it can be proved that this was the sole reason for the termination, the employer may be subject to fines or possible jail time.
Employers are responsible for providing the injured worker with adequate medical treatment. Under workers’ compensation rules, the employer selects the physician who will examine the employee. If the employee feels that the treatment has been ineffective, he or she must give the employer an opportunity to provide additional treatment.
Occasionally, employers or their insurers may deny an injured worker’s claim for compensation. Workers may file a claim with the Division of Workers’ Compensation to have them determine if benefits should be paid. Additional appeals may be possible if these claims are also denied.
Exceptions to Workers’ Compensation
The workers’ compensation system is the usual way that most who are injured on the job recover compensation for their injuries, but there are a few exceptions. One of the situations that removes an injured worker from the workers’ compensation process is if he or she is injured by a third party. This can be a relatively common occurrence at a construction job site, as many contractors are present. If someone who is not an employee of the organization causes an injury, the injured worker may pursue a negligence lawsuit against the parties who are responsible.
These can be very complicated scenarios that will require the assistance of an experienced attorney to determine the extent of control that the employer had over the employee. Finding those who are responsible for your injuries can be a very detailed process. The actual employment relationship between the employer and the one who caused the injury can be difficult to determine without a closer analysis, but this information is crucial to the injured party.
If the employer intentionally caused an injury to occur, employees will also not be restricted by the workers’ compensation system. For instance, say an employer removed a safety feature from a machine to help speed up productivity or willfully exposed workers to hazardous chemicals. If the employer’s actions result in a worker becoming injured, the worker may have a personal injury claim against the employer.
If the case can be brought outside of the workers’ compensation system, it may be possible for the injured party to recover compensation for additional damages that would otherwise not be available. For example, damages for lost wages or pain and suffering could be recovered under a personal injury lawsuit, but not under a workers’ compensation claim.
If you have been injured on the job, contact an experienced attorney to understand the options that may be available to you. It is important to begin this process as soon as possible, as there are strict time limits in place. If you wait too long, you may be unable to recover compensation for your injuries.