How to File a Workers’ Compensation Claim
Relying on a Temp Agency: How to File a Workers’ Comp Claim in New Jersey If You are a Seasonal or Temporary Worker
New Jersey is a state that relies a lot on temp agencies and staffing agencies, especially for seasonal workers. Whether it is for harvesting crops in the Garden State, handling the holiday rush at malls, or providing extra staffing along the beach for lifeguards and restaurants, part-time and seasonal employees are a staple in New Jersey. While most workers complete their term of employment without issue, many of these part-time and seasonal jobs are physically demanding and can result in workplace injuries. When this happens, some seasonal workers are improperly told that they are not covered or eligible for workers’ compensation benefits under New Jersey law. Our workers’ comp attorneys know that is not true.
Under New Jersey law, nearly every business is required to maintain workers’ compensation for all workers, employees, or agents of the business. This is not optional, and there are steep fines for businesses that fail to maintain valid workers’ compensation insurance. This applies equally to corporations (with one or more employees, excluding all corporate officers), partnerships (with one or more employees, excluding the owner), LLCs (with one or more employees, excluding the owner), and sole proprietorships (one or more employees, excluding the owner).
Does New Jersey Law Distinguish Between Full-time, Part-time, or Seasonal Workers?
This is a common question asked to our workers’ compensation lawyer. No, New Jersey law does not distinguish between the type of employee you are. As long as you are within the scope of employment when you are injured or if your injury or condition is work-related, you are covered under workers’ compensation law. This means part-time or seasonal employees hired just to work the summer or holiday rush are covered.
If an employer tells you otherwise, or if an employer refuses to submit your valid WC claim to the carrier, consult with a workers’ comp attorney right away. This is because workers’ compensation is the exclusive remedy for an injured employee meaning that the employee cannot sue the employer.
But if the employer refuses to submit a valid claim, in certain instances NJ law allows the employee to commence an action against the employer. Further, an employer who refuses to submit a claim may also be hiding the fact that there is no workers’ compensation coverage as required by New Jersey law. In this situation, the employer may be both fined by the state and be sued by the injured worker.
I Was Placed by a Temp Agency and Hurt at That Seasonable Job: Who is My Employer?
Temp and staffing agencies are businesses that place laborers for employers in need of help. Although a worker may be working on the business’ farm, restaurant, or other placement, the worker is still technically an employee of the temp agency.
This means that a worker injured at their job placement would file a claim with the temp agency or staffing agency, and not with the business they were assigned to. However, the best practice would be to also alert that job placement and put them on notice. But in almost all instances the temp or staffing agency will be liable to cover the WC benefits.
What if the Temp Agency Puts Me Back on Light-Duty Before my Doctor Does?
This is a frequent issue which is simply answered: Only follow your doctor’s recommendations. Remember, the temp agency is the one that purchases and pays for WC insurance. The longer you are on WC, the longer they are on the hook and could be subjected to increased premium or fees from the carrier. Once you return to work, that goes away. Not only that, but the longer you are not working during a season where part-time and seasonal employees are in demand, the longer the temp agency is not making money. Thus, the temp agency has every incentive to get you back to work.
But if you go back to work too soon, the WC carrier may cut off your benefits prematurely. This could mean that you are left on the hook for your own medical bills. It may also impact your disability rating and what compensation you may be entitled to.
Also, comply with your physician’s recommendations and only return to light duty when your doctor tells you it is safe. Make sure to also get a definition of light-duty and understand what you can and cannot do.
Ask Our Workers’ Compensation Lawyers in NJ for Help
Workers’ compensation laws can be very complicated, especially when you are injured. But here at The Law Offices of Craig A. Altman, we try to make it as simple as possible for injured workers and their families. We will handle your claim while you handle your recovery. We offer FREE consultations and only get paid after we recover compensation for you. If you were injured on the job in NJ, call to schedule your FREE appointment by dialing (856) 327-8899 or use our contact us box to send us a message here.