Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Will my case be settled without Court?
A: No. All workers’ compensation matters must come before a Judge of Compensation for the final disposition and you will be notified when your appearance is required in Court.
Q: How do I get information on my case?
A: The firm permits the secretaries and paralegals who work in our office to discuss compensation cases by phone if they recognize the client. These individuals are not lawyers, however, and cannot give legal advice. They can assist you, however, regarding doctor’s appointments and scheduled Court hearings. When you call our office, please inform us of any changes in your work status or medical condition. Please be sure to leave a current telephone number and address.
Q: What if I hurt myself again before my compensation claim is resolved or before my right to re-open my workers’ compensation claim expires?
A: If you are involved in any new accident, you must contact us immediately so that we can protect your rights and advise you of any impact on your worker’s compensation claim.
Q: Can I re-open my workers’ compensation claim once it is settled?
A: In many cases, you have a right to re-open your workers’ compensation claim. Under some settlements you do not get this right. The right to re-open your claim is two years from the last benefit paid. If you wish to re-open your claim, please make an appointment to meet with our attorneys to discuss the matter fully. At that time, your potential rights and benefits can be explained to you along with any complications or costs which may arise in the re-opening process.
Q: Who will pay my medical bills?
A: Authorized medical and prescription bills are the responsibility of your employer’s insurance carrier. You must go only to the doctor authorized by your employer’s insurance carrier. If you go to any other physician, you may be responsible for the unauthorized bills. Workers’ compensation insurance is responsible only for treatment which cures or improves your condition. Workers’ Compensation will not pay for medical treatment which only makes you feel better temporarily. When the doctor determines that you have reached maximum improvement, the medical treatment and any temporary disability benefit payments being made to you will stop. Please mail to our office copies of any medical bills that you receive which pertain to your workers’ compensation claim.
Q: What amount of money will I collect while I am temporarily totally disabled?
A: You will receive 70% of your pay up to a maximum amount which varies each year and is set by the New Jersey Department of Labor.
Q: How long will the temporary total disability benefit payments continue?
A: You will receive temporary total disability benefit payments as long as the authorized treating physician feels you remain temporarily totally disabled. Once the doctor determines that you can return to some gainful employment, or you have reached maximum medical improvement, your temporary total disability benefits will be stopped.
Q: When will my Claim Petition be filed?
A: All petitions must be filed within two years of the date of the accident or two years from the last payment of any temporary, permanent, or medical benefits. In an occupational disease case, you have two years from the date the injured party knew or should have known that there was a problem related to work. Our office will promptly file the claim petition after opening your file. You will receive a copy when it is sent for filing with the Court.
Q: When will my case be listed in Court?
A: Normally we receive notification from the Workers’ Compensation Division that your case is listed for a pretrial hearing from between three to six months from the date the claim is filed. This does not mean that your case will be resolved when it is listed. In fact, most cases are listed several times before a claim can be resolved.
Q: How will I know when to be in Court?
A: You will be notified by mail on those occasions when your appearance may be required or we may contact you by telephone prior to a hearing date. Each day a Judge is assigned a list of cases which may total 70 or more. We do not know whether or not your case will be reached, or if it is ready to proceed, until we appear at Court. If you are notified by mail to be “in Court” you should be at the address indicated at the time indicated in the notice. You must notify us in writing of any move, change of address, or change in telephone number. If you fail to advise us of where you can be reached, your case can be dismissed and you may lose benefits.
Q: Are there other public benefits that I can collect?
A: If .you are not receiving workers’ compensation, you may be eligible for State temporary disability benefits. However, please be aware that this money must be paid back from any workers’ compensation received. You may apply for this benefit through the New Jersey Department of Labor Disability Insurance Service. If your disability lasts or is expected to last 12 months or more, you maybe eligible for Social Security Disability. Apply for this benefit through your local Social Security office. Please advise our office if you file a Social Security Disability claim. There may be some interaction between your workers’ compensation and Social Security claims. Please review with us any Social Security decision so that we may determine whether it affects your workers’ compensation claim.
Q: What attorney’s fee will I be charged?
A: An attorney’s fee is a fee for services rendered by the law firm. This fee is payable only if benefits are awarded to you. This fee is subject to a 20% maximum. Under our workers’ compensation law, the Judge presiding over a workers’ compensation claim determines the amount of the fee. Usually the Judge Orders that the fee be paid partially by you and partially by the insurance company. In some cases, however, the Judge Orders that the fee is paid entirely out of your award.
Q: Are there any other costs that I will need to pay?
A: Yes. You are responsible for all costs of your claim. In most cases, these costs involve one or two medical evaluations to determine permanent disability after all treatment has been rendered. The doctors usually used for this purpose are currently charging $200.00 per evaluation. This fee is usually advanced by our office. This is for their medical evaluation, their review of your medical records, and for their report to the law firm of your permanent disability. You will be required to reimburse these costs at the end of the case from your award. In most cases, the insurance company is required to contribute to these costs, reducing your share accordingly.
Q: May I go to any doctor for a permanent disability evaluation?
A: In order to obtain the best result for you, you must be evaluated by a doctor who is familiar with workers’ compensation matters. Not every doctor is familiar with the workers’ compensation law and the percentages of disability used in Workers’ Compensation Court. For this reason, you must attend the evaluations requested by our firm and by the insurance company. You must attend the evaluations as scheduled or there will be a missed examination charge for which you will be responsible. Additionally, missed exams will mean that your case is subject to dismissal upon Motion by the insurance carrier.
Q: Will I have to have a full trial of my case?
A: Most workers’ compensation claims do not require a full trial. Most can be settled with the Judge considering your testimony and the various evaluation reports. If an offer of settlement is made, it will be discussed with you so that you can decide whether to accept it. If your workers’ compensation claim cannot be settled and must be tried fully, you will be asked to come into our office to discuss the trial with the attorney. You will receive a full description of the costs that you may anticipate in a workers’ compensation trial. Trial costs are your responsibility. These could include medical witness fees, medical records costs, and transcript fees. These costs may or may not be advanced by our office. You may be required to pay these costs directly.
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