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New Jersey Workers Compensation Law: Eligibility and Claim Process

Last updated: November 12, 2023

The intricacies of New Jersey's workers' compensation laws play a pivotal role in safeguarding both employers and employees. From eligibility criteria to claims processes, this guide breaks down everything you need to know about the protections and provisions available to those injured or made ill due to workplace incidents in the Garden State.

Overview of New Jersey Workers Compensation Laws

New Jersey workers compensation laws aim to provide financial assistance and medical care to employees who sustain injuries or fall ill due to their jobs. These laws ensure that affected employees receive timely and adequate compensation while also protecting employers from expensive personal injury lawsuits.

Eligibility for Coverage

By understanding who is eligible under these laws, workers can be better prepared and informed about their rights should they experience a work-related injury or illness. Here, we delve into the nuances of eligibility and the categories of workers that fall under these protective measures.

Who is Covered by NJ Workers Comp?

The scope of coverage includes:

  • Full-time employees: Regardless of the duration of their employment, full-time workers are under the protection of workers' comp. This means that even if an employee has just started a new job and faces an injury on their first day, they are eligible for compensation.

  • Part-time employees: Even if an individual does not work a full 40-hour week, they are still entitled to the benefits of workers' comp if injured or taken ill due to their job.

  • Temporary employees: Despite their short-term contracts, Temp workers have the same rights to workers' compensation as their permanent counterparts.

  • Public sector employees: Government workers, whether at the state, county, or municipal level, are covered. This includes firefighters, police officers, and teachers, among others.

  • Private sector employees: Those working in the private sector, from corporate employees to those in small businesses, have the protection of workers' comp.

However, it's important to note certain exceptions. For instance:

  • Independent contractors: Often, independent contractors aren't considered employees of a company, and thus, they might not be covered under the traditional workers' comp. However, the distinction between an employee and an independent contractor can sometimes be blurred, and there have been cases where independent contractors have been deemed eligible. It's essential to be clear on your employment status and contract specifics.

  • Volunteers: In many instances, volunteers are not considered employees and may not be eligible. However, there are exceptions, especially if the organization or entity provides insurance coverage for its volunteers.

  • Seasonal workers: While many seasonal workers are covered, there can be stipulations or differences in benefits depending on the nature and duration of their work.

Benefits Available to Eligible Employees

New Jersey workers' compensation laws offer a range of benefits to employees who sustain work-related injuries or illnesses. These provisions ensure that affected individuals receive medical care and financial support during their recovery:

  • Medical Benefits: Employees are entitled to necessary medical treatments, prescriptions, and hospital services for work-related injuries or illnesses. Typically, the employer or their insurance carrier selects the healthcare provider.

  • Temporary Disability Benefits: If an injury or illness prevents an employee from working, they can receive compensation for lost wages, usually around 70% of their average weekly wage. These benefits kick in after seven days of absence and continue until return to work or maximum medical improvement.

  • Permanent Disability Benefits: If a work-related injury results in permanent impairment, employees receive compensation based on the severity of the disability. The amount is determined by a set schedule for specific injuries or ailments.

  • Death Benefits: If a worker dies due to a job-related incident, their dependents receive financial support. This usually encompasses 70% of the deceased's weekly wages, distributed among dependents. Additionally, up to $3,500 is provided for funeral expenses.

Work-Related Injury & Illness Claims Process

Understanding the New Jersey's workers' compensation claims process can empower employees to take the necessary actions and access the benefits they're entitled to.

Filing a Claim for Injury or Illness

The first step after experiencing a work-related injury or illness is prompt notification. Reporting to your employer as soon as possible ensures timely medical attention and initiates the claims process. It's essential to be detailed when describing the incident, including dates, times, and circumstances. Gathering statements from witnesses can also strengthen your claim. Keeping a meticulous record of medical visits, treatments received, and any correspondence related to the incident will further support your case.

Requirements for Making a Valid Claim in NJ

The credibility of your workers' compensation claim in New Jersey largely depends on its adherence to specific guidelines:

  • Nature of Injury: The harm suffered must directly stem from work activities or the work environment.

  • Timely Reporting: It's imperative to notify the employer within 14 days of the incident or diagnosis, though sooner is always better.

  • Evidence: The claim should be substantiated with relevant documents, such as detailed medical reports, incident logs, and any other supporting evidence.

How Long Does the Claims Process Take?

While the claims process's length can be influenced by multiple factors, there's a basic timeline to be aware of. After filing, the insurance carrier usually has a 21-day window to evaluate and respond. Depending on the injury's nature, the required treatments, and the thoroughness of the documentation, the process can span anywhere from several weeks to a few months.

What Happens After a Claim is Filed?

Post-filing, the ball is in the insurance carrier's court. They will assess the provided information, possibly consult with medical professionals, and decide on the claim's validity. If they accept the claim, benefits will commence as per the policy's terms. However, a denial isn't the end of the road. Employees have the right to challenge such decisions.

Informal Hearings and Appeals Processes

The New Jersey workers' compensation system provides recourse for those who face claim denials or disagreements regarding benefit amounts. Initially, an informal hearing can be requested, which offers a platform for both parties to discuss their viewpoints before a mediator. These discussions are designed to be swift and non-adversarial. However, the matter can be escalated to a formal hearing if no agreement is reached. Here, a judge will evaluate the evidence presented and deliver a binding decision.


Is there a time limit to file a workers' compensation claim in New Jersey?

Yes, typically, you have up to two years from the date of injury or discovery of an illness to file a claim.

Can I be fired for filing a workers' compensation claim?

No, New Jersey laws prohibit employers from retaliating against employees who seek compensation.

Can I choose my own doctor for treatment under workers' compensation?

In New Jersey, your employer or their insurance carrier typically has the right to select the medical provider for treating work-related injuries or illnesses. However, if you're not satisfied with the provided care or if it's an emergency, there are circumstances where you might be allowed to choose your own doctor. It's essential to communicate with your employer and understand the specific protocols in place.

What if I'm injured while working from home or off-site?

This is a common concern with the rise of remote work and flexible job arrangements. Generally, if you're performing tasks related to your job and get injured, you might be eligible for workers' compensation benefits, even if the injury didn't occur at the traditional workplace. However, the specific circumstances of the injury, the nature of your employment agreement, and the location's relevance to your job duties can all play a role in determining eligibility.

Are emotional or psychological injuries covered under New Jersey's workers' compensation laws?

Psychological or emotional injuries can be compensable under New Jersey workers' compensation laws. However, they're typically more challenging to prove than physical injuries. To be eligible for benefits, the emotional or psychological injury must be directly tied to a work-related incident or the work environment. For instance, witnessing a traumatic event at work or experiencing extreme work-related stress might qualify. It's crucial to consult with a legal expert to understand your rights and the nuances of such claims.


Understanding New Jersey workers compensation laws is essential for every employee in the state. These laws are designed to protect workers, ensuring they receive proper care and financial support after work-related injuries or illnesses. Familiarize yourself with these provisions, know your rights, and ensure you take the necessary steps if ever faced with a workplace incident.

Discover the essentials of the workers’ compensation Return to Work policy and seamlessly navigate your journey back to the workplace. Equip yourself with knowledge, protect your rights, and ensure a smooth transition with the guide by Disability Help.

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Chloe Powers
Chloe works with policymakers on behalf of Disability Help to support their work at a strategic level, ensuring the conditions are in place for creative individuals and organizations to grow, reach their potential and effect relevant, sustainable change.
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