When you have suffered a job-related injury or illness in New Jersey, a workers’ compensation claim is typically the only recourse against your employer. However, in some very limited and specific circumstances you may be able to bring a separate personal injury lawsuit against your employer and/or third parties.
If your employer has caused your work accident which led to your injury intentionally, you can seek remedies outside of the workers’ compensation system. You must be able to prove that the employer's actions were intentional with a substantial certainty of death or injury. In a separate personal injury lawsuit you may be able pursue non-economic compensatory and punitive damages against the employer. Proving intentional harm in a workplace injury in New Jersey is a difficult standard to meet, but not impossible. This issue frequently arises in situations where an employer removes a safety guard from a machine or equipment that an employee must work on as an integral part of their job, and the lack of the safety guard causes the injury.
In some instances, parties other than the employer (i.e. outside contractors, product manufacturers and other third-parties) are responsible for an injury sustained at work. In these cases, you may be able to sue the manufacturer, distributor, contractor, subcontractor, etc. for their negligence in causing the work injury. Bear in mind however, that if you also receive workers’ compensation benefits as a result of the injury, your employer's insurance carrier can place a lien on any recovery in the third-party case and recover a portion of the monetary award to offset the workers’ compensation benefits paid.
If your informal workers’ compensation claim is denied, you can file a formal Claim Petition with the Workers’ Compensation Division. If you are denied workers’ compensation benefits in connection with a formal proceeding, you may appeal the decision in the New Jersey state appellate courts.
No Workers’ Compensation Insurance
If your employer is completely uninsured, has no workers' compensation insurance, and there does not exist a basis for a personal injury claim against the employer, you may be able to join the NJ Uninsured Employers Fund in order to receive medical benefits and temporary disability.
If you wish to explore options available to you for a New Jersey work injury, please call on the Reinartz Law Firm for legal counsel.