An employee who is injured at work will typically file a workers’ compensation claim to recover benefits such as coverage for medical treatment expenses and partial wage replacement for missed time from work. Although an employee does not need to show that his or her injury was caused by the employer’s negligence or legal fault, such as committing an OSHA violation, in order to secure workers’ compensation benefits, establishing that such a violation occurred can affect the injured worker’s total legal rights. 

Read more: Can Temporary Workers Get Workers’ Compensation?

What is Workers’ Compensation

The workers’ compensation system is a product of state law that ensures that workers who are injured or suffer harm on the job or due to their employment responsibilities receive certain financial benefits. Prior to the implementation of workers’ compensation across the U.S., injured workers, like any other injured person, would have to show that their injury was caused by their employer’s negligence or recklessness in order to obtain compensation from their employer. Of course, due to the lack of equal footing between workers and employers, injured workers would have a difficult time obtaining the evidence needed to prove their employer’s negligence or recklessness. And filing a personal injury suit against an employer could lead to retaliation such as demotion or termination. 

As a result, states established the workers’ compensation system, which entitles a worker injured on the job to certain compensation and benefits from his or her employer regardless of fault for the worker’s injuries or harm, or even in the absence of anyone’s fault for the worker’s damages. Today, workers’ compensation grants injured employees benefits such as payment for medical treatment and rehabilitation of their work injury or occupational illness, partial wage replacement if they miss enough time from work, disability payments if an injury results in partial or total disability, and even vocational training into a new job.

Read more: Can Undocumented Workers Receive Workers’ Compensation?

Personal Injury vs. Workers’ Compensation Claims

In exchange for workers being guaranteed certain benefits and compensation from their employers in the event of a work-related injury or illness, workers give up their right to file a personal injury claim against their employer, except in very limited circumstances. 

A personal injury claim can provide greater financial compensation that is available under workers’ compensation. For example, workers’ comp only provides partial wage replacement and limited, defined disability benefits, whereas in a personal injury claim an injured person is entitled to full compensation for their lost wages or earning capacity. An injured person can also seek pain and suffering and lost quality of life damages, which are unavailable in the workers’ compensation system. 

Read more: Does My Injury Qualify For Workers’ Compensation?

What Is OSHA?

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is a federal agency responsible for enforcing the Occupational Safety and Health Act and ensuring that employers provide safe working environments for their employees. To this end, OSHA has published regulations that employers must follow in order to keep workplaces safe. Employers who violate OSHA regulations may be subject to significant fines.

How OSHA Violations Affect Injured Workers’ Legal Rights

An injured worker may be able to step outside the workers’ compensation system and pursue a personal injury claim against his or her employer by establishing that his or her accident and injury was caused by the employer’s intentional or reckless conduct. OSHA violations might assist workers in meeting this burden -- while some courts have ruled that an OSHA violation alone does not entitle an injured worker to bring a personal injury claim against an employer, other courts have allowed workers to use OSHA violations as evidence of the employer’s intentional or reckless conduct.

Contact a Rochelle Park Workers’ Compensation Lawyer to Discuss Your New Jersey Workplace Injury Case

A workplace injury can be devastating, particularly if it prevents you from returning to work for an extended period of time. Although New Jersey Workers’ Compensation laws are supposed to provide you with reimbursement for medical expenses and replacement pay for missed time at work, it is not always easy to get the Workers’ Comp benefits you deserve. That is why you should speak with a knowledgeable Workers’ Compensation lawyer about your situation and get guidance throughout the claims process. The experienced Workers’ Compensation attorneys at the Epstein Law Firm, P.A. represent clients in Hudson County, Middlesex County, Passaic County, Bergen County , and all across New Jersey. Call 201-231-7847 or fill out our online contact form today to schedule a free consultation about your work injury case. Our main office is located at 340 West Passaic Street, Rochelle Park, NJ 07662.

The articles on this blog are for informative purposes only and are no substitute for legal advice or an attorney-client relationship. If you are seeking legal advice, please contact our law firm directly.