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If you’re injured in the course of your employment, you are entitled to medical and disability benefits through workers’ compensation insurance. There are essentially two types of workers’ compensation disability benefits – temporary disability, which is paid to employees to compensate for lost wages during their recovery, and permanent disability, which is paid to employees to compensate for any medical issue that doesn’t completely heal to the condition it was in prior to the work related injury.
Understanding Temporary Disability Benefits for Workers’ Compensation in NJ
If you’re injured while at work, the workers’ compensation insurance company or your employer have the right to choose the medical providers (doctors, physical therapists, diagnostic testing facilities, etc.) to treat your injuries. If you choose your own physicians, the workers’ compensation insurance company does not have to pay your medical bills, except in the case of an emergency.
If the authorized treating doctor advises you to remain out of work or gives you work restrictions that your employer cannot accommodate, then you are entitled to temporary disability benefits.
Your weekly temporary disability payment is calculated based on 70 percent of your average weekly wages, including overtime, for the 26 weeks prior to the injury. For example, if your salary is $1,000 per week but you averaged $200 in overtime during that period, your temporary disability benefit compensation would be 70 percent of $1,200, which amounts to temporary disability benefits of $840 per week
In 2020, the minimum temporary disability rate is $252 per week, and the maximum rate is $945. In other words, if your average weekly wages were $2,000 per week, your temporary disability benefits would be capped at $945 per week, not $1,400, if there were no cap on benefits.
Understanding Permanent Disability Benefits for Workers’ Compensation in NJ
After the conclusion of treatment, if a work-related injury or illness has not resolved or healed completely, leaving you with pain, limitation of motion, difficulty performing certain tasks, loss of strength, or other residuals, you are entitled to a permanent disability benefit, even though you are able to return to work. In other words, you’ll never be as healthy as you were prior to the injury or illness, so you’ve reached “maximum medical improvement”. Once you’ve reached maximum medical improvement, you’ll be evaluated to determine the extent to which the injury or condition has had a permanent impact on your life.
Permanent disability awards in New Jersey are determined by a rather complex chart created and annually updated by the NJ State Department of Insurance. Settlements are based on the part(s) of the body injured and the type and severity of the injury or illness. The vast majority of settlements for permanent partial or total disability are reached without going to trial.
Permanent Total Disability vs. Permanent Partial Disability
Keep in mind that you don’t have to be completely disabled to collect permanent disability. While workers’ compensation doesn’t pay for pain and suffering, it does pay for the extent to which an injured employee continues to have pain, limitations, or ongoing symptoms, even after treatment is completed.
Even if you’re able to go back to the same job and perform the same work functions, any diminished capacity or loss of function can result in permanent disability benefits. This is known as permanent partial disability, when the injured worker is able to return to work in some capacity. Permanent total disability means that your injury or illness completely prevents you from being gainfully employed at all.
Why You Should Consult with a Workers’ Compensation Lawyer
In most cases, the workers’ compensation insurance company and your employer are more concerned about minimizing the cost of treatment, temporary disability benefits, and permanent disability benefits than any regard for your well-being. You need someone in your corner who understands the law and is ready and able to fight for the benefits to which you are entitled under the law.
Edward P. Shamy, Jr. has been representing injured workers for more than 37 years with unwavering dedication to protecting the rights of his clients and obtaining full compensation for each and every one of his clients under the law.
If you’ve been injured at work, contact the Law Offices of Edward P. Shamy, Jr. for a free consultation concerning your rights to temporary and permanent disability benefits.