What if I am Totally Disabled?
The New Jersey Workers’ Compensation Act provides benefits to employees who are injured as a result of a specific traumatic event, as well as if someone is injured as a result of an occupational exposure, or a continuing exposure to a condition that eventually causes disability. Further, in the event that one’s compensable disability causes that person to be rendered totally and permanently disabled, the Act provides for payment of benefits for as long as that disability continues.
That is to say, one who is rendered totally and permanently disabled as a result of a compensable condition could possibly receive benefits for the rest of one’s life, should the disability continue for that long. This is true whether the compensable condition is the sole cause of one’s total disability, or if the compensable condition is the final of a series of disabilities, finally rendering one totally and permanently disabled. The statute provides protection to the employee in either instance.
In the event that the compensable condition is the sole cause of one’s total inability to work, it is possible that the employer would be held responsible for payments to the employee as long that disability continues. However, in the event that the employee had prior disabilities, application can be made to the Second Injury Fund for payment for the employees prior disabilities.
In that regard, the State of New Jersey has developed a trust fund as part of the Worker’s Compensation Act. The trust fund is to provide benefits relative to the employees pre-existing disabilities, leaving the employee solely responsible for the employees last compensable condition. Accordingly, an employee with disabilities is protected and still able to be employed, if medically capable, without risk to the employer for the prior disabilities.