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Workmans Comp NJ is a system of trade-offs for both the injured employee and the employer. The employer will pay benefits regardless of fault for the workplace accident. The employee has no other remedy against the employer beyond the benefits offered in workers compensation court system.

On November 9, 2022, the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics released the Employer Reported Workplace Injuries and Illnesses in New Jersey for the year 2021. According to the release, private industry employers reported 75,800 non-fatal workplace injuries and illnesses in 2020. This results in an incident rate of 2.9 cases per 100 full-time workers. New Jersey is higher than the national rate of 2.7 cases per 100 full-time workers. Also of interest is the 2020 incident rate is higher than the 2019 incident rate. In 2019, the incident rate was 2.5 cases per 100 full-time workers.

Benefits to the injured worker in NJ listed
Justice Michael Mussmano, a Supreme Court of Pennsylvania jurist from 1951 to 1968, was a prolific legal writer. He was also a Nuremberg Judge in post-World War II Germany. In the case of Richette v. Pennsylvania RR,  he opined on the importance of a fair system of workmans comp that is applicable in NJ as well. There is no better summary of why workmans comp NJ is such an important area of law. According to Justice Mussmano:

"The person who has ... been injured and who, because of his injury, is unable to work, and has a large family to support, and has no money to engage a lawyer, would be at the mercy of the person who disabled him because, being in a superior economic position, the injuring person could force on his victim, desperately in need of money to keep the candle of life burning in himself and his dependent ones, a wholly unconscionably meager sum in settlement, or even refuse to pay him anything at all. Any society, and especially a democratic one, worthy of respect in the spectrum of civilization, should never tolerate such a victimization of the weak by the mighty."

Fairness for the injured worker is vital. The employer could, and often previously did, deny benefits to those employees suffering workplace accidents. That left little options for the injured worker. That is, other than to pursue costly and lengthy remedies in civil court. The law should offer a level playing field. The goal is to avoid the harsh realities reflected in Judge Mussmanno’s opinion.

The Historical Context of Workmans Comp NJ

The current system of workmans comp in NJ and the rest of the country goes back to the Industrial Revolution of the late 1800s and the early 1900s. At the time, there were no protections for workers including the use of child labor. And no enforceable standards for a safe work environment. The notion that a worker receives medical and financial benefits as a social safety net was not widespread. The notion did not receive serious consideration until the early 1900s. Company towns were common in which workers lived in areas owned by the employer. They spent their meager wages on rent and food establishments of the employer. Total dependency on wages was the norm for the vast majority of workers during this time. The working conditions could be egregious.
In fact, NJ was one of the first states to enact workmans comp legislation in 1911.  It was a hard-fought battle in many parts of the country including NJ. Decades before the New Deal of the 1930s, workmans comp laws were giving workers some measure of social justice. The goal was to avoid total financial ruin as a result of an on-the-job accident. We should never take for granted the system in place today. It originates from generations of workers long ago. They fought for a better outcome for injured workers in NJ and the United States as a whole.

Workmans Comp NJ Benefits- The Injured Employees' Only Benefits

There is a trade-off inherent in New Jersey between the employer and the employee. Sometimes referred to as the Grand Bargain. Each party (both the employer and the employee) gained and lost rights to arrive at a fair resolution. 
Under New Jersey Law, the injured worker receives benefits without consideration of fault for causing the accident. The employee who suffers a workplace accident can receive benefits regardless of who is responsible including the worker. Traditional tort law often bars recovery when the injured party is partially liable for the injury. That does not apply to Workmans Comp NJ. Also, the employee does not need to prove that the employer was negligent or the cause of the accident. 
The injured worker cannot, in most circumstances, seek more damages against the employer beyond the remedies provided under Workmans Comp NJ. Those remedies include a wage benefit, medical benefit, and a potential permanency award. Sometimes referred to as the exclusive legal remedy.  In sum, the employer receives protection against more litigation from the injured worker.
The system design offers a fast and certain benefit. This is in exchange for giving up traditional remedies the injured worker may have in a civil court action. As reflected by Justice Musmanno, the protection of benefits to the worker is critical. The protection maintains fairness between two parties with unequal strength. This should be the focal point going forward.

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