Workers’ compensation coverage helps limit the job-related risks every employee in New Jersey has. From a high school student working at a car wash to someone near retirement age in the construction industry, every professional has the theoretical protection of workers’ compensation coverage.
Unfortunately, the coverage is meant to minimize how much hardship a worker may suffer because of a job-related health issue, but benefits do not promise to completely eliminate injury-related expenses. For a significant percentage of injured workers, a major injury will leave them with thousands of dollars in uncovered expenses.
Spinal cord injuries are some of the worst possible job injuries. They can come with a seven-figure lifetime price tag for medical care. Unfortunately, spinal cord injuries related to work often expose the shortcomings in the current workers’ compensation system.
The best treatment may not be available
Researchers have announced incredible advances in recent years related to the treatment of spinal cord injuries. However, cutting-edge treatments are unlikely to be part of the plan for a worker injured on the job. Instead, they will receive industry-standard care, which may mean they either forego the best treatment possible or pay for it with their own resources.
Although workers’ compensation benefits in New Jersey can fully cover someone’s healthcare costs, benefits will largely end when someone achieves maximum medical improvement (MMI). Given that most spinal cord injuries leave people with permanent medical consequences, the risk is there for workers to achieve MMI while still having lingering symptoms.
Although they can potentially get benefits for symptom management, it can be hard to negotiate a claim when you will have a lifetime of medical expenses.
The shortcomings of disability pay are hard to ignore
When you will never be able to work again or when you will go from a comfortable, well-compensated blue-collar position to making minimum wage, workers’ compensation disability benefits may be a crucial form of support for your family.
Unfortunately, workers in New Jersey can generally only receive, at most, two-thirds of their lost wages. Higher-earning individuals will typically find that the maximum benefit is far below what two-thirds of their wages would usually be.
Especially when a worker has a catastrophic injury and receives a settlement offer for a workers’ compensation claim, they need to proceed carefully to adequately protect themselves. Educating yourself about workers’ compensation benefits can help you make the best choices after a serious injury on the job.