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Filing a Personal Injury Claim for a Workplace Injury

Can You Get Civil Damages in Addition to Workers’ Comp?

Filing a Personal Injury Claim for a Workplace InjuryUnder New Jersey law, most employers must carry workers’ compensation insurance to cover their employees. There are only two exceptions—where the employer is covered by a federal program or has been approved to be self-insured (in which case the employer pays benefits directly to the injured worker).

Because of the prevalence of the workers’ compensation system, there’s a misperception that, when you’re hurt on the job, your only recourse to recover lost wages, medical expenses, and other losses is through a workers’ comp claim. In limited circumstances, however, you might be able to file a personal injury lawsuit in civil court seeking damages for an injury sustained on the job. Here’s how it works.

Workers’ Compensation Claims in New Jersey

New Jersey workers’ compensation law was enacted to streamline the claims process for injured workers and help employers more effectively manage the financial consequences of workplace injuries. Workers can start receiving benefits within weeks, and employers don’t have to worry about sympathetic juries returning inflated damage awards.

Workers’ compensation law, however, only covers injuries caused by the carelessness or negligence of an employer or coworker. In those instances, workers’ comp provides the only source for reimbursement of losses.

Third-Party Claims in Workplace Accidents

When a workplace accident is caused, in whole or in part, by the wrongful actions of someone other than your employer or a fellow employee, you are not limited to the benefits provided by a workers’ compensation claim. Instead, you can file a personal injury lawsuit in civil court. In fact, you can file a personal injury claim and a workers’ compensation claim at the same time, though you can’t recover for the same losses in both proceedings. For example, if your medical expenses are paid by workers’ comp, you can’t recover them again in a personal injury lawsuit.

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