Can you get compensated for pain and suffering after a New Jersey work accident?
Answer: Not via NJ workers’ compensation. Rather, injured workers can file lawsuits against non-employer parties to recover financial compensation for medical bills, lost wages and pain and suffering. This is in addition to filing a worker’s comp claim. NJ law allows both a workers’ comp claim and a separate lawsuit for a work accident.
See full answer below by our New Jersey work injury law group.
Workers’ Comp in New Jersey – No Compensation for Pain & Suffering
Under New Jersey work injury law, injured workers can’t sue employers for negligence leading to a work injury. Instead, workers’ comp is the sole remedy against the employer. Because of this and because the workers’ comp system is designed to get injured employees back to work as soon as possible, compensation for pain and suffering isn’t allowed in a comp claim. Instead, comp will pay for medical bills and indemnity (a portion of wage loss for disability caused by the injuries). If comp paid out for pain and suffering, workers would not be motivated to get back to work.
It is important to note that there are limited exceptions to the rule that prevents injured workers in NJ from suing employers for a work accident. Click here to read more about lawsuits against employers after a work accident in New Jersey. For purposes of this article, our lawyers only focus on non-employer lawsuits, or those against other parties whose negligent conduct led to a work accident.
New Jersey Work Injury Law – Pain & Suffering Damages
An injured worker in New Jersey can seek compensation by filing a lawsuit against all non-employer parties whose conduct led to the accident. This is in addition to a workers’ comp claim. In other words, an injured worker can file both a workers’ comp claim and an injury lawsuit.
Oftentimes, injured workers have perfectly valid claims against contractors, subcontractors, property owners, etc. The key is getting the case investigated early on by an experienced work accident lawyer. This helps to protect the injured worker’s legal rights.
In a work injury lawsuit, the injured worker can seek all financial losses caused by the work accident. This includes all medical expenses, lost wages and out of pocket expenses. In addition, NJ law allows claims for pain and suffering, the physical pain, physical scarring, mental anguish, etc. caused by an accident. There is no litmus test to determine how much compensation can be obtained for pain and suffering. Rather, it’s on a case by case basis and largely depends on the extent of the physical injuries.
In order to evaluate pain and suffering, a judge or jury will look at how the injuries impacted the injured worker’s ability to resume their normal and usual activities at home and work. The greater the impact, the greater the pain and suffering.
Future Damages, Including Future Pain & Suffering
New Jersey injury law allows an injured worker to make claims for future damages, which includes future financial losses and expenses, as well as future pain and suffering. These claims are typically reserved for catastrophic or major injury cases, or those involving serious, permanent injuries. Workers who sustain crush injuries, spinal cord injuries and major brain trauma will often make claims for future damages.
For example, a New Jersey worker is hit and run over by a forklift. Due to the accident, both of his lower limbs have to be amputated just below the knees. Because of the significant injuries, the worker is unable to return to his well paying union job as a carpenter where he earned over $50,000 per year.
Three years after the accident, he is able to find a desk job as a security guard in an office building. He makes $20,000 less per year. If the worker is only 35 years old, he has roughly 30 years before he retires. The future financial losses are quite large, taking into account inflation, fringe benefits, retirement benefits, etc.
In addition to the future financial losses due to the lower paying job, there would be claims for medical expenses such as additional physical therapy. Lastly, there would be claims for the pain and suffering he will experience in the future as a result of the devastating impact of the injuries on his work life, family life, etc.
For more info, visit the New Jersey Work Accident Law Library.
New Jersey Work Injury Law Firm – Over $150 Million Recovered for Injured Workers
Our lawyers are licensed in New Jersey and focus on representing injured workers in all types of work accidents including construction accidents, workplace falls and more. Contact us for a free consultation. Our firm has offices in Cherry Hill, Atlantic City and Iselin. Click To Call
**This website does not provide legal advice. Every case is unique and it is crucial to get a qualified, expert legal opinion prior to making any decisions about your case. See the full disclaimer at the bottom of this page.