This communication only represents an overview. There are many other rules and requirements. In order that they be fully apprised of their rights in workers’ compensation, school employees who are injured on the job should consult with an experienced workers’ compensation attorney familiar with the special rules applicable to them.
Workers’ compensation helps protect anyone who works from the potentially devastating costs of work-related injuries or illnesses. Workers’ compensation insurance covers medical expenses, lost wages, ongoing care costs, as well as funeral expenses if an employee is hurt, becomes sick, or dies as a result of a work-related accident or illness.
If you think that an injury that should be covered under Workers’ Compensation has occurred, you should:
- Report any work-related injury as soon as possible but within 14 days of a traumatic incident; workers’ compensation benefits can be limited when notice is provided after 14 days. No benefits are payable where notice is not provided within 90 days after an accident. Where a claim is of an occupational nature, i.e., exposure over a period of time, there are no specific notice requirements; however, a workers’ compensation claim must be filed within two years of the date the employee became aware of the condition and its relation to employment. After that, a claim will be barred. The report can be verbal or in writing to a supervisor or the school board office.
- Request immediate medical attention from a workers’ compensation provider-approved physician.
- Document the accident with a written description and photos, if possible.
- Report an occupational disease as soon as the worker becomes aware of the condition and that it is job-related. This should be done in writing with notes from a physician.
- Document the conditions that led to the occupational disease.
- Keep the school board office, supervisor and local association up to date on ongoing absences. Submit notes from the physician. Return to work when released by the physician.
- Take immediate action to preserve sick days should they be inappropriately assessed by contacting a workers’ compensation attorney, the local association and UniServ field representative. Strict timelines apply to preserving sick days.
- If the board charges absences to sick or vacation time, contact a workers’ compensation attorney and notify the local association.
Workers’ compensation claims are not covered under the NJEA Legal Services plan. However, many of NJEA’s network attorneys handle such matters in their own private practice. A lawyer is not permitted to charge a fee in advance for handling these cases. Fees will be fixed by the judge only if a compensation award is made.
Remember, if you become injured as a result of a work-related accident or illness, let your union rep know immediately.