A work injury can cause major disruptions to your life—not only your to your health, but also to your career, finances, and overall well-being. The workers’ compensation system in New Jersey provides medical care, vocational rehabilitation, and other services to help you get you back to work as soon as possible. Worker’s comp also pays for some, but not all, of your losses. This article explains the types and amounts of benefits that you can receive through workers’ comp. (To get these benefits, you will need to file a New Jersey workers’ compensation claim.)
In New Jersey, temporary total disability benefits are paid to workers who miss more than seven days of work due to their injuries. These benefits are 70% of a worker’s gross weekly wages, but cannot exceed a maximum amount set by law each year. For 2017, the maximum benefit is $896 per week. (This cap, which is updated each year, will increase to $903 in 2018.)
Temporary total disability benefits continue until:
Once you have reached maximum medical improvement, your doctor will evaluate you for a permanent disability. If you are found to be permanently and totally disabled, you will continue to receive weekly payments at your temporary total rate for as long as your disability continues. Certain severe injuries—such as the loss of both eyes, hands, arms, feet, or legs (or a combination of any two)—are automatically considered to create a permanent and total disability. Other serious injuries will also qualify if they leave the worker unemployable.
If your doctor finds that you have a permanent partial disability, you may be eligible for additional benefits. New Jersey workers’ compensation pays for scheduled and unscheduled losses.
A scheduled loss of use award is paid for disabilities of certain body parts, such as the eyes, ears, teeth, arms, legs, hands, or feet. The award is 70% of your gross weekly wages, for a number of weeks determined by a state schedule. For example, the schedule lists a total loss of use of a foot at 230 weeks. If you have only a 50% loss of use of the foot, you would receive 115 weeks of payments.
If the body part you injured does not appear on the schedule, you can receive a nonscheduled award. This is for injuries to body parts other than the eyes, ears, or extremities—such as injuries to the head, spine, or organs. The award is also paid at 70% of your gross weekly wage for up to 600 weeks, depending on the severity of your disability. For example, if your doctor assigns you a 10% disability rating to the body as a whole, you can receive 60 weeks’ worth of payment.
New Jersey establishes maximum rates for permanent partial disability benefits, which are set out in a schedule of disabilities chart published by the Division of Workers’ Compensation. For example, the maximum scheduled award for a 50% loss of use of a foot is $29,345; the maximum nonscheduled award for a 10% disability is $14,340.
New Jersey workers’ compensation also provides additional benefits, including:
As you can see, workers’ compensation only pays of a portion of your lost wages. Workers’ comp also does not pay anything for the pain and suffering caused by your injury. While this may seem unfair, it is part of the trade-off that is the workers’ comp system. The advantage of workers’ comp is that you can get benefits relatively quickly without needing to file a lawsuit or prove that your employer was at fault for causing your injury. The downside is that you can’t get the full value of your losses. (However, in some cases, you may be able to file a lawsuit to recover pain and suffering and other losses. To learn more, see our article on suing outside of the workers’ comp system.)