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Workers’ compensation might soon include injuries in parking lots

On Behalf of | Dec 20, 2021 | Workers' Compensation |

For New Jersey workers who are injured on the job, workers’ compensation benefits can be a primary factor in making ends meet and getting the medical care they need. Being approved for benefits requires adhering to the rules when reporting the injury, filing the claim and sticking to the treatment protocol. However, it is common for there to be disputes about the injury, where it happened and when the employer’s responsibility begins and ends. Another concern centers on the treatment the worker must submit to even if they are unsure about doing so. These may be addressed with two new bills that are being considered in the Garden State.

Bills would fundamentally change two workers’ compensation issues

Often, there is discord over location as to where the injury took place, when it happened and if the employee is entitled to benefits if he or she was technically not yet on the clock but was heading into work. One possible change to state law could give these workers the right to seek workers’ compensation if they are simply about to go into work but have not yet done so. According to this bill, workers will be viewed as having started work when they are in an employee-designated parking lot.

It will continue until they leave that parking lot when their day or night at work is complete. Even if the parking area is separate from the worksite, the worker will still be viewed as functioning under the terms of employment when going to and from the parking lot to the workplace. This is important as workers who might be hit by a car, fall on a slippery patch or get injured in another unfortunate incident will then be covered by workers’ compensation.

The other bill centers on medical and surgical treatment to address the injury. If the new law is put in effect, it will say that if a worker is refusing to accept the treatment that the treating physician deems necessary, the employee can ask the Division of Workers’ Compensation (DWC) to order the correct treatment and the employer will be required to pay for it. Employers might perceive a worker’s refusal to take part in treatment or surgery to be an attempt to simply continue receiving benefits with no effort to return to full health and get back to work. There could be other justifications for an employee refusing to take part. The DWC will handle it if the new bill is passed.

Changes to the law should be understood when seeking workers’ compensation

Having experienced assistance when filing a workers’ compensation claim and maximizing benefits is obviously imperative. So too is it vital to have assistance that is specifically tailored to the exact situation. If an employer or insurer protests a worker filing for workers’ compensation for any reason, the entire case must be scrutinized based on the law to determine whether the claim is viable. With these proposed changes, workers would be granted greater say in their treatment protocol without fear of reprisal from the employer and they would be able to claim benefits if they are injured in the workplace parking lot. This will add a layer to workers’ rights when they are injured and want to file a claim. The details of the law and possible changes can be complex and it is crucial that they are known from the outset.

 

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