WORKERS' COMPENSATION LIENS--HOW DO THEY WORK?

If you've been hurt on the job in New Jersey and can't work, you need money right away to cover your lost wages and additional care expenses. You can't always wait for the completion of a full investigation into what caused the injury, or for the conclusion of a lawsuit which may result in an award of damages for you when a third party is responsible for your injuries. Fortunately, workers' compensation is designed to result in payments for your wages and to cover your medical costs right away, so that you'll keep being able to meet your expenses while longer-lasting investigations or lawsuits move forward. Due to the challenges of navigating the workers' compensation system, it is often a good idea to hire an attorney to help ensure your claim is paid. Another benefit of hiring an attorney is that the attorney will be able to determine whether there are any responsible third parties that may be liable for causing your injuries, such as the manufacturer of a defective piece of equipment.

If you and your attorney do decide to bring a lawsuit against a third party, then your employer and the New Jersey workers' compensation insurance company may put a lien on your possible future award from a successful lawsuit for the amount they paid you to cover your medical expenses and lost wages. What this means is that workers' compensation gets to take back what they paid you from the money you receive in a lawsuit, under the argument that you should not be able to recover twice for one injury. However, they will not recover the entire amount you received, since in most cases a civil settlement or verdict will be greater than what workers' compensation pays. An example would be if you were injured by a malfunctioning forklift, and received $60,000 in medical expenses and lost wages from workers' compensation, prior to your attorney suing the forklift manufacturer for medical expenses, lost wages, and your pain and suffering. If the court awarded you $300,000 in damages, the workers' compensation insurers would have a lien against that award for $40,000 (workers' comp takes back two-thirds of what it paid but leaves you with one-third to cover your attorney fees and expenses).

If you've been hurt at work, and need help ensuring that you're paid what you deserve for your injuries, contact the Morristown workplace injury law firm Smith & Doran for assistance with your claims, at 973-292-0016.

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The Law Offices of Smith & Doran, P.C.
60 Washington Street, Suite 302
Morristown, NJ 07960

Phone: 973-532-2661
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