In recognition of the fact that people can get hurt on the job, New Jersey requires most employers to carry workers’ compensation insurance unless covered by a federal program. You may think that you need to file a lawsuit against your employer to obtain payment for your losses, but this is actually very rare. Only very narrow circumstances like an intentional act or a dispute about eligibility may result in filing a lawsuit.
The purpose of workers’ compensation
A workers’ compensation policy is meant to pay for the expenses of workplace injuries, including medical treatment and lost income. You do not have to prove that anyone did anything wrong, but you also generally cannot sue your employer.
However, insurance companies tend to look for ways to deny people benefits. Your employer’s insurer may say that your losses were less than you think they are or that you do not need certain treatments or more paid time off. When this happens you can appeal the denial through the state’s administrative agency. You have a right to legal representation when disputing a workers’ compensation decision.
Intentional acts exception
The no-fault workers’ compensation system prevents you from filing a lawsuit against the employer. However, state law carves out an exception for intentional acts. This means that an employer specifically chose to do something or not to do something that was almost certain to hurt employees.
Unclear eligibility for benefits
Sometimes lawsuits against employers happen because the injured person is fighting to establish that the accident was indeed a workplace accident. Only workplace injuries qualify for benefits through a workers’ compensation policy. Running errands outside of the work location or an accident at a company event can make it unclear whether you were covered by the insurance.