Have you suffered a workplace injury in New Jersey through the negligence of your employer or another third party? If so, you may be eligible to seek compensation for your injuries. However, suing a company for negligence in New Jersey can be a complex process, so hiring an experienced law firm to handle your case is essential.
In this article, our attorneys at Sadaka Law of Englewood, NJ, explain important information employees should know regarding workers’ compensation benefits, personal injury claims, and New Jersey law. Our law firm handles personal injury claims, including negligence and compensation claims for injured workers.
Is It Possible to Sue Your NJ Employer for Negligence?
Under New Jersey law, businesses with employees (except federal programs) must maintain workers’ compensation insurance. Therefore, if you are ever on the job and become injured, you may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits regardless of your level of fault or blame during the accident.
However, while these workers’ compensation benefits can cover expenses related to an employee’s workplace injury, like medical bills, there’s a catch: accepting workers’ comp benefits means you relinquish your right to sue your employer for a personal injury or file a negligence claim.
Exceptions to the NJ Workers’ Compensation Rule
While the laws regarding New Jersey workers’ compensation insurance apply to most employers, a few exceptions exist:
If an employee suffers from a work-related injury, they can not typically file a personal injury claim. However, if their employer fails to maintain the proper workers’ compensation insurance for their employees, such a restriction does not apply.
So, if you work for an uninsured employer, you can legally file a lawsuit against your employer if you suffer a work-related injury.
Another exception to workers’ compensation law in New Jersey is product liability. Employees who suffer a work-related injury due to a defective product may be eligible to file a workers’ comp claim. However, the defective product exception also allows employees to file a personal injury lawsuit and potentially recover an additional monetary award on top of their workers’ compensation claim.
Suppose an employee suffers a personal injury at work due to an intentional act by their employer. In that case, the worker may be eligible to file a negligence claim, even if the business has workers’ comp insurance.
Here’s an example: A boss removes the safety components from machinery, resulting in a worker becoming injured on the job. In that case, the worker might have a valid claim for a personal injury lawsuit.
New Jersey law also prohibits employers from firing an injured worker in retaliation for filing a workers’ compensation claim.
Sexual Harassment or Defamation
Cases of defamation or sexual harassment are also exceptions to the workers’ compensation laws in New Jersey. So, even if an employer has valid workers’ comp insurance, the victim may still be eligible to file a lawsuit in cases of sexual harassment or defamation.
Workers who suffer injuries while not “on the job” may be able to file a civil action claim. An example would be if an employee were injured on their way to work. However, these cases can be complex and challenging to prove.
What About Third-Party Claims for Work-Related Injuries?
Third-party liability is another legal avenue for injured workers in New Jersey who want to recover compensation.
For example, you may be able to file a third-party claim against a person or entity who isn’t your direct employer but is a subcontractor, property owner, or manufacturer. Furthermore, you may be able to seek compensation for the pain and suffering you experienced as a result of a third party’s negligence. Of course, no guarantees exist for the outcome.
Third-party liability in a work injury case only applies in certain instances, including:
Motor Vehicle Accidents: If you suffered an injury in a motor vehicle crash while driving to or from your job, you might be able to sue the negligent driver.
Defective Products: You may also be able to sue a third-party manufacturer if you suffer an injury as a result of their defective product.
Slip and Falls: If you suffer a slip-and-fall injury due to a negligent property owner, you may be able to file a lawsuit and sue for compensation.
Physical Assaults: If you have a disagreement with another coworker at your job and they physically assault you, you may have a valid personal injury claim.
What Is Considered Negligence in the Workplace?
New Jersey has a specific no-fault law that allows employees with work injuries to file a workers’ compensation claim against their employer. However, you might face a tradeoff: This law absolves most employers of any legal liability beyond paying out workers’ compensation benefits, which means that injured workers give up their right to file a personal injury lawsuit.
How To Prove Your Employer was Negligent
Of course, exceptions exist, most notably when an intentional act of negligence occurs. But when the exceptions do apply, what exactly constitutes a negligent workplace?
As experienced workers’ compensation lawyers, our Sadaka Law team explains the four elements that a worker must prove to hold their employer responsible after they get hurt on the job:
- First, the claimant (the injured worker) must prove that their employer had an obligation or duty of care within the workplace.
- Second, the claimant must prove the employer failed to uphold that duty.
- Third, the claimant must prove their work injury was the direct result of the employer’s failure to uphold their obligation of care.
- Fourth, the claimant must prove that the work accident was reasonably foreseeable by the responsible party or employer.
Examples of an Employer’s Negligence at Work
While New Jersey rarely allows lawsuits beyond standard workers’ compensation claims, a few situations exist that could qualify for a valid suit. As skilled lawyers, we’ve seen several cases where a worker suffered an accident on the job, and the negligent circumstances of the case permitted a separate lawsuit. Here are some real-life examples of what might qualify for a workers’ compensation case:
- Electrical accidents
- Repetitive stress injuries
- Exposure to harmful diseases
- Bus crashes or work-related car accidents
- Heavy machinery/equipment accidents
- Construction accidents
- Exposure to dangerous drugs or toxic chemicals
- Heavy lifting injuries
- Hearing and vision loss
- Healthcare/hospital accidents
- Asbestos-related illnesses or diseases
As New Jersey law is so strict regarding personal injury claims that occur while performing work, it becomes critical to find the best lawyers in your area to handle your case. Look for an experienced law firm, like Sadaka Law, with a history of helping NJ employees file for compensation after a serious work injury.
The same circumstances apply in third-party liability cases. Seeking professional legal services improves your chances of a favorable outcome in your case.
Here’s a real-life example: a NJ court ruled that construction worker Kenneth Van Dunk was able to sue his employer beyond workers’ comp benefits for a work injury. The court ruled in his favor because his injury resulted from his employer’s willful and intentional violation of the OSHA and federal safety rules.
Can You Sue Your Employer Due to Stress and Emotional Pain?
In certain circumstances, workers may be able to sue their employers for pain and suffering (punitive damages) that were a result of their work injury. However, NJ limits most workers comp cases, so your best bet is to meet with a firm of experienced lawyers who can discuss your situation and tell you whether you have a chance at filing.
Can You Sue Your Employer If You Catch COVID at Work?
Did you catch COVID while working at your job through your employers’ direct inaction or failure to provide adequate protection? If so, you may have a case to sue for compensation. However, there’s no guarantee that a judge will approve your claim.
In some cases, you may be able to receive workers’ compensation benefits for your medical expenses and other financial needs. However, if the court denies your suit for workers’ compensation benefits, the outcome is the same: you will most likely be unable to file a personal injury lawsuit.
In addition, while NJ law does have the “intentional action” exception, it doesn’t always apply. You still may not be able to file a lawsuit even if you end up with COVID because of direct inaction by your employer. This may include the employer’s:
- Failing to enforce social distancing
- Failing to provide adequate sanitization and cleaning measures in the workplace
- Not providing personal protective equipment like gloves, barriers, masks, etc.
For those reasons and more, hiring experienced workers’ compensation lawyers is vital to help your case. They can give you professional advice as to whether you could successfully sue, whether it involves your employer or third parties.
How Much Compensation Can You Get for an Employer’s Negligence in NJ?
Every case is different, and no exact formula determines how much financial assistance injured workers can get from their employers or third parties for compensation. Your attorney can help you learn more about how your injury might affect your eligibility for compensation.
However, in cases where the injured party receives workers’ compensation benefits, only certain expenses qualify for coverage, including:
You may receive monetary assistance to help pay for your medical care after your injury. Applicable expenses include prescriptions, hospital care, and medical treatment. The employer or insurance carrier may pay out benefits in these cases. They also might have the discretion to decide which medical provider you see for treatment.
Temporary Complete Benefits
If you remain disabled for over seven days after your initial injury, you may qualify to receive a temporary benefit (paid retroactively) consisting of 70% of your weekly salary. Compensation ends if you return to your regular employment, are no longer hurt, or reach a maximum of 400 weeks.
Permanent Partial Benefits
If you become injured on the job and now have a permanent physical impairment, you may receive weekly benefits after your temporary disability is no longer valid. However, the extent of your injury will determine the amount of financial assistance you can receive.
Permanent Complete Benefits
Permanent complete benefits are for people who receive an injury at work that is so severe it prevents them from ever seeking gainful employment again. After the first 450 weeks, a reevaluation will occur to determine whether the injured party is still disabled. Usually, these consist of 70% of the worker’s weekly pay.
In NJ, death benefits apply for dependents in cases where a worker dies due to being injured on the job. These usually consist of funeral expenses up to $3,500 and benefits that are 70% of the decedent’s weekly pay rate.
Finding the Best Attorney to Represent You
Filing for workers’ compensation and third-party lawsuits in NJ is very complicated. Remember, the law prevents the majority of lawsuits from moving beyond the standard workers’ compensation benefits that most injured employees will receive.
Therefore, in cases with a negligent employer or third-party liability, hiring the best lawyers you can find to be your legal advocates and take your case head-on is exceedingly important.
Not every attorney has experience with these types of cases. Due to the limitations of New Jersey law, it’s difficult to sue employers or third parties for being negligent in the workplace. For help, look for a law firm with years of experience handling workers comp cases, like our team here at Sadaka Law.
Suing a Company for Negligence in New Jersey? Call Sadaka Law Today!
If you’re suing for negligence in New Jersey, you need an attorney you can trust to fight for your best interest. At Sadaka Law, we provide our clients with professional legal services for a wide variety of personal injury claims, including workers’ compensation cases. Our lawyers have extensive knowledge of New Jersey’s laws for workplace injuries. If you’ve been injured at work and believe you may have a case, we’d be happy to meet with you and discuss your situation.