Phil Murphy, New Jersey's governor, signed into law the "hand and foot" bill, which effectively increased workers' compensation benefits for injuries causing loss of function to the hands and feet. The goal of this legislation was to provide injured workers greater compensation by increasing the number of weeks that an employer is required to pay for these injuries.
Workers' compensation is a comprehensive package of benefits available to New Jersey workers who are injured on the job. Available benefits include payment for medical treatment up until the worker has reached maximum medical improvement, temporary disability benefits to replace lost wages while out of work, and permanency benefits to compensate the worker for permanent loss associated with the injuries. With regard to permanency benefits, body parts are either scheduled or unscheduled. Hands and feet are considered scheduled body parts. In the past, the hand and foot categories provided for fewer weeks of compensation compared to other parts of the body. It was the aim of the "hand and foot" bill to change this.
While this may sound mildly confusing, some examples may help to illustrate the changes. Consider the following examples of permanency compensation under the old law and new law:
Old Law: 15% of hand = $9,261
New Law: 15% of hand = $9,828
Old Law: 15% of foot = $8,694
New Law: – 15% of foot = $9,450
Old Law: 50% of hand = 122.5 weeks or $33,364
New Law: 50% of hand = 150 weeks or $43,128
Old Law: 50% of foot = 115 weeks or $30,969
New Law: 50% of foot = 142.5 weeks or $40,318.50
As you can see, as the seriousness of the injury increases so does the number of weeks of compensation. This is good news for injured workers and means more protection for New Jersey workers. If you have been injured at work, call us to speak with a work injury lawyer.