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What New Jersey workers’ compensation benefits are available?

Workers' compensation benefits are paid to Bergen County employees who suffer work-related illnesses or injuries. Mandatory employer insurance is the source of the benefits for workers and their dependents. Benefits cover short- and long-term medical treatment, employee income losses, temporary or permanent disability and death.

Employers retain the right to select the health care providers involved in a worker's treatment, unless an injury is the result of an emergency. The medical professional preferences of an employee also supersede an employer's choices, when necessary care is wrongfully denied.

The type of benefits an employee receives relates directly to a worker's employability, at the same job or a different one, following an injury. Eligibility for temporary total disability benefits begins when an injured employee is unable to work for more than a week. Temporary benefits end when an employee is cleared to work or nothing more can be done to improve the worker's condition, a status known as maximum medical improvement or MMI.

An MMI determination may be followed by a reassessment of an injury for eligibility as a permanent disability, categorized as partial or total. Employees who receive permanent partial benefits have suffered physical losses that are disabling but not entirely incapacitating, like the loss of one limb or one eye, as the injuries relate to income earning ability. Permanent total benefits are reserved for employees whose injuries prevent them from return to any form of "gainful employment."

When an at-work accident leads to a loss of life, an employee's surviving family members may file for workers' compensation death benefits. Under New Jersey rules, employer benefits must cover up to $3,500 a worker's funeral expenses. In addition, dependents are eligible to receive benefits equivalent up to 70 percent of lost wages.

This overview may prompt more questions than answers. An attorney can help you understand how workers' compensation rules apply directly to your claim.

Source: State of New Jersey, Department of Labor and Workforce Development, "Injured Workers" Nov. 02, 2014

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