A Workers’ Compensation Lien In New Jersey Allows Employers or Insurance Companies to Recover Costs Paid for An Injured Employee.

Impact of Workers' Compensation Liens on Potential Recovery in New Jersey

A workers’ compensation lien is a legal claim that can be made on an individual’s personal injury or workers’ compensation judgment or settlement for reimbursement of medical bills and/or lost wages, in addition to other financial claims. In New Jersey, a workers’ compensation lien might be granted to an injured employee’s employer or their insurance provider to recover expenses paid out on behalf of the employee for their medical treatment and wages paid for work missed as a result of the injuries. It can also be placed by health care providers and other creditors.

A workers’ compensation lien serves to ensure that the party responsible for negligently causing the injuries appropriately compensates the correct parties. For example, if an injured person has their medical expenses paid by their employer and then the individual, rather than the employer, receives payment for those medical expenses in a court judgment or settlement award, the injured party would be enriched and the employer would remain uncompensated by the responsible party for those expenses.

New Jersey Workers’ Compensation Rights

There are certain important legal protections that come with being an employee rather than an independent contractor or a self-employed person, including the right to recover compensation for work related injuries, even if your employer was not negligent in causing your injuries. To recover workers’ compensation in New Jersey an individual must be injured in the course of their employment. When an employee suffers a work-related injury, they have the right to receive medical treatment, temporary disability benefits, permanent disability benefits, and lost wages if applicable. It is important to note that fault on the part of the employer or any other party is not relevant in determining if an employee is entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. It must simply be a work-related injury for the benefits to apply.

Common Liens in Workers’ Compensation Cases

As an injured worker, it is important to understand what to expect from your workers’ compensation and/or personal injury case. There are some situations in which an employer is negligent in causing an employee’s injuries; however, there are other situations in which a third party (not the employer) is negligent in causing the employee’s injuries, yet the accident occurs during the employee’s work hours and when they are acting in the scope of their employment. This is precisely the type of situation in which a workers’ compensation lien may be applicable.

For example, let’s say a truck driver is injured in an accident due to the negligence of another driver while making deliveries for his job. The driver may have a workers’ compensation claim against his employer and a personal injury claim against the negligent driver. Workers’ compensation claims generally move much faster than personal injury claims and, in many cases, the employer’s insurance will begin to pay out immediately for medical treatment unless the work-related nature of the injury is in question.

Liens by Workers’ Compensation Insurance Carriers

Under New Jersey law, a workers’ compensation carrier has a right to recover any payments made relating to the accident from the negligent party. They can do this through a workers’ compensation lien if the injured employee brings their own lawsuit against the negligent party and recovers damages through a court order or settlement.

Rights of Medical Providers and Insurers to File Liens

Workers’ compensation liens can also be asserted by medical providers, health care insurance providers, and Medicare or Medicaid against a workers’ compensation claim. For example, if an employer denies an employee’s claim for treatment and compensation because they argue that the injury was not work-related, then the employee’s own health insurance might pay their medical expenses, or they may owe medical debts to their medical providers for their medical treatment. If the employee sues their employer to recover compensation and they are awarded a judgment or settlement against the employer, then these other entities that incurred costs related to the work injury may have a lien against the employee’s workers’ compensation award.

Liens by Other Parties on Recoveries for Work Injuries

Finally, additional liens unrelated to the accident can also be applied to a personal injury or workers’ compensation award including a child support lien and a federal or state tax lien.

Complexities with Workers’ Compensation Liens

In order to assert a lien over a personal injury or workers’ compensation award, timing matters. A workers’ compensation award will not be finalized until any liens are identified and applied. If a potential lienholder fails to assert their claim, then they will lose the ability to recover compensation from the award.

After lienholders are identified, they must be prioritized. It is possible that multiple parties have a claim to a lien against the workers’ compensation award, including insurance carriers and government tax agencies. Of course, the last thing an injured employee wants to learn after a long legal battle for compensation is that their award is going to be reduced by one or more liens against the award. It is possible, with the help of an experienced legal advocate, to negotiate and reduce the amount of a lien to lessen the financial burden on the injured plaintiff.

When will a Workers’ Compensation Lien Not Apply?

Intricacies of Workers' Compensation Liens in NJ

There are also various situations in which a workers’ compensation lien will not apply. For example, if an employer refused to pay out any workers’ compensation benefits to or medical expenses for an injured worker, then the employer will not be entitled to a lien against any personal injury judgment or settlement awarded to the employee.

Consult Our Lawyers If You Have Concerns about Workers’ Compensation Liens in New Jersey

If you are injured in a work-related accident and your employer denies any benefits, including any of your related medical expenses, lost wages, and compensation for temporary or permanent disability, or if the work-related injury was caused by the negligence of a third party (not your employer’s negligence), it’s time to consult with an experienced workers’ compensation attorney. The benefits of working with a skilled workers’ compensation lawyer rather than navigating the legal process alone make the decision simple.

Our team of workers’ compensation lawyers at Cohen & Riechelson will evaluate all of the evidence in your case to determine the liability of any and all parties involved and determine how much compensation you are entitled to. From there, we will advocate tirelessly on your behalf to ensure that you receive the maximum compensation. We will identify any potential liens that may be placed on your award and work to negotiate for their reduction when appropriate. Also, our team works on a contingency basis, which means that we only get paid if you win a favorable judgment or settlement award.

To book a complimentary consultation with an attorney at our office, please contact us today. We serve injured workers throughout the Mercer County, Middlesex County, and Burlington County area, such as Metuchen, Lawrenceville, Hopewell, Trenton, Robbinsville, South Brunswick, Hamilton, Princeton, West Windsor, and elsewhere in New Jersey. Reach out to us at 609-528-2596 or complete our user-friendly online form for a complimentary case evaluation.