Frequently Asked Questions

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Have Questions About Personal Injury or Workers' Compensation Claims?

We often get asked questions when it comes to Personal Injury and Workers’ Compensation cases during consultations. So we gathered a list of the most popular frequently asked questions and listed them below so we could help you gain some insight before we sit down for a consultation. If you don’t see your question below, contact us and we may add it to the list.

Personal Injury

Do I Even Have a Case?

The only way to know this for sure is to speak with an attorney at the firm. Whether you have a neck injury, back injury, shoulder injury, or some other injury, we will need a lot more information determine if you have a case worth pursuing. Hiring the right lawyer is important and we take our job seriously when reviewing potential cases. Call us today to set up your free legal case evaluation!

How long do I have to file a lawsuit for personal injury?

In NJ the amount of time you have to file a lawsuit for a personal injury is two years from the date of the accident. This is known as a statute of limitations and applies to all personal injury cases in this state. It is codified as N.J.S.A. § 2A:14-2. For a minor, the two year “timer” does not begin to run until the minor’s 18th birthday. Failure to institute a lawsuit within this two year time-period will result in you being forever barred from pursuing any claim you may have. In certain circumstances, in addition to this time period, there is a shorter time-period where certain notices are required before being able to file a lawsuit or recover damages. These include but are not limited to claims against public entities (municipality, government agency, the State of New Jersey, etc.), amusement parks, and certain equestrian activities.

What if there is a public entity like a municipality or the state or county or some government agency?

If you were injured by the action or inaction of a public entity, such as a municipality, government agency, the State of New Jersey, etc., you must notify the public entity of the specifics of your claim within ninety days of the incident that caused the injury. This notice procedure is very important and highly particular and it is recommended that your lawyer provide the notice on your behalf. Failure to provide the appropriate notice under the law will result in you being forever barred from pursuing any claim you may have.

My boss caused me to get injured at work, can I sue him or my employer?

Employers and coworkers cannot be sued for work injuries, even if their negligence is the cause of your injury. You may still have a worker’s compensation claim that you are able to pursue. Please see our worker’s compensation page for more information.

How long is this going to take?

We don’t know but we can tell you it will be a long time. As we like to say in our office, “the wheels of justice turn slowly.” At the outset of your representation there is simply no way to know the length of time it will take to resolve or try your case. Every case and every person is different. You have two years from the date of the accident to file, and the main driving force is your treatment. With minimal treatment, we can negotiate a settlement or file a lawsuit much more quickly than if you are still treating two years later. However, it is important to remember that “quick” is a relative term. If we are unable to resolve your case without filing suit, a lawsuit must be filed to pursue your damages. From start to finish a lawsuit can take several years, and this is in addition to the time spent pre-suit trying to resolve your case.

How much is this worth?

We don’t know until we have all the medicals and liability questions answered. There are many factors that go into valuation of a personal injury case and in order for us to provide you with accurate and full information, we will need to review pertinent medical records, expert reports, prior medical histories, and a litany of other documents. The first discussions that you will have with us about valuation will take place once your medical treatment is done and we have had time to review the records.

Are you sure you will be able to win my case?

We can not make any promises, guarantees, or representations regarding the likelihood of success. We are confident in every case that we decide to take and our firm has had success in achieving favorable settlements and jury verdicts. That being said, anything can happen if a case goes trial, which is why we cannot guarantee you any result or outcome.

I spoke to another lawyer and she said…

Lawyers are like doctors in that they all see cases differently and they may have other opinions about the likelihood of success, theories of liability, valuation, and more. When hiring this firm you can rest easy knowing that we have years of experience as trial attorneys with verdicts that have appeared on the list of highest verdicts of the year in the State of New Jersey, as well as other accolades within the firm.

I can’t afford my medical bills, can you pay them?

No we cannot. Clients are often surprised to learn that they are responsible for their own medical bills even if they are injured by someone else’s negligence. While we sympathize with our client’s who are facing difficult financial strains because of the injury they have suffered, we are unable to assist in the payment of medical bills. We do everything we can to ensure that the resolution of the case will alleviate this stress, but we cannot pay them in the interim. There may be other options available to you that we can discuss if and when the issue presents itself.

I think these medical bills are wrong, what should I do?

Bring them to us and we will take a look. While we cannot pay the bills for you, we are able to discuss the bills with insurance companies and doctor’s offices to make sure you are only responsible

My friend has a brother who said their mother-in-law had the same injury and got $XXX,XXX,XXX for it so I won’t settle for anything less than that. Can you get me that much?

No two injury cases are the same even if they sound similar. Age, prior history, venue, liability, insurance limits, insurance carriers, and more factor into your case’s value. Your case may be worth the same, more, or even less depending on the circumstances and we won’t know until we have a complete picture of the case.

How much is this going to cost me?

The short answer is “nothing out of pocket.” At the Wright Law Firm, we will never send you a bill and you will never owe us anything. Our fee is based on your net recovery and we only get paid if you get paid. Along the way the firm will advance funds for your benefit for things like filing fees, interest, court costs, and expert witnesses, and those fees will be reimbursed to us. We do not “make money” on these fees and if we are unable to recover for you, those fees that we have spent are our loss. You will not be responsible for anything if we are unable to recover on your behalf.

I was in a car accident and the insurance company is low-balling me on the value of my vehicle, will you handle that for me?

We do not get involved in the property damage aspect of your claim. Typically, the cost to hire an attorney and the associated experts necessary to prove your claim outweigh the benefits you would receive, if any.

Workers' Compensation

I was hurt at work. What should I do?

It is important to immediately report any work injury to your employer. This ensures that the worker’s compensation process gets started on the right track, and the insurance company and employer know about your injury right away. You should also contact an experienced worker’s compensation attorney.

My employer told me not go through insurance and that they would just pay for my medical bills. That sounds easier and cheaper than hiring a lawyer, doesn’t it?

Employers in New Jersey are required to carry worker’s compensation insurance for a reason. Quickly alerting your employer and their insurance carrier will allow you to pursue your claim the right way, and seek the treatment and compensation you deserve. This process can be complex, so you should contact an attorney immediately.

I got injured at work but didn’t miss any time off from work, do I still have a claim?

It is a common misconception that worker’s compensation only means getting temporary benefits while you recover from an injury. This is only part of the benefits to which you are entitled if you have been injured at work. In addition to these temporary benefits, your employer will be responsible for your medical care, and if your injuries result in a permanent disability, you may be entitled to additional payment based on the percentage of disability of the injured body part. This applies whether or not you miss any time from work. The insurance company and your employer may not provide you with information about these additional benefits, which is why it is important to contact an experienced workers’ compensation attorney.

My employer’s insurance carrier is sending me to a doctor that I don’t like, can I go to my own doctor?

The Worker’s Compensation statute in New Jersey requires an insurance company to control the treatment of the patient. Injured workers are required to abide by the decisions and recommendations of the physicians the insurance company has provided. If you go see an unauthorized doctor, you could potentially be stuck paying the bill on your own. An experienced workers’ compensation attorney can help navigate this process.

The doctor said I am at “Maximum Medical Improvement,” what does that mean?

If you doctor says you are at Maximum Medical Improvement, what they are saying is that there is no more treatment that can be offered that will improve your condition. The doctor may feel that further treatment, like a surgery, is unnecessary or you may turn down the idea of a surgery. Ultimately, there will be time when you reach the end of your treatment where and you will either no longer be in need of treatment or no longer wish to continue treatment. When this happens you will be sent for a “permanency evaluation” where two doctors (one from the insurance carrier and one from your attorney) will determine the extent of your disability. The reports generated by both doctors will be used as a basis for settlement negotiations and/or trial.

The doctor said I am at Maximum Medical Improvement but I am still in pain and want further treatment. What do I do?

If the worker’s compensation insurance carrier does not provide you treatment willingly, an experienced workers’ compensation attorney can ask the court to order the insurance carrier to provide treatment. In order to do this you may need to be seen by an independent doctor who will confirm that additional treatment is needed (and explain what that treatment is) or confirm the treating physician’s Maximum Medical Improvement diagnosis. If the independent doctor confirms that additional treatment is needed, the judge could ultimately make a determination based on your testimony and the doctors’ testimony whether or not they will order the additional treatment recommended or if the judge will confirm the doctor’s diagnosis of Maximum Medical Improvement.

My life has been drastically impacted and I have suffered since this injury occurred. Will my pain and suffering be compensated in a worker’s compensation claim?

No. Pain and suffering are not covered under the worker’s compensation statute. Worker’s compensation injuries are adjudicated by percentage of disability of whichever body part was injured and converted into a number of weeks at the relevant rate of compensation to come up with a settlement/verdict. There is a “schedule of disabilities” for every year that can be found on the Division of Workforce and Labor Development’s website that details the rate of compensation for every possible body part.

I injured my ______________ and the doctor wants to do surgery but I don’t want to do it because I heard it doesn’t work, I would rather just continue with a different course of treatment and collect the benefits until I am able to return to work. Is this allowed?

You will never be forced or compelled to have any specific treatment or procedure, however, if a doctor recommends a procedure such as a surgery, if you decline this treatment you could be placed at MMI and returned to work.

How much am I going to get for this injury and how much is it going to cost me?

It is difficult to discuss the value of your workers’ compensation claim until your treatment is complete and you have had your permanency evaluation. Once that has occurred, an experienced workers’ compensation attorney can discuss settlement positions and determine a number that you believe to be a fair resolution, which will ultimately be negotiated with the insurance company. Fees in a worker’s compensation case are fixed by the Court and are generally awarded at 20% of the total award. In addition, any fees for medical records or examinations will come out of your settlement.

How long is this going to take?

One of the most common complaints that injured workers have about the worker’s compensation system is the time frame. It is not going to be quick. The biggest driving factor is your treatment. If you have minimal treatment, your case will shorter than if you have lengthy and involved treatment. If there are issues that need to be addressed by the court such as disputes over treatment or temporary disability benefits, these things can also extend the length of the case.

I am not being paid temporary benefits from the worker’s compensation insurance company, can I apply for disability?

This is possible, however you may be responsible to pay that money back at the conclusion of your worker’s compensation case.

I am injured but I don’t want to do anything about it because I am worried my boss will fire me for filing a claim. Can they do that?

Employers are not allowed to take adverse employment action against you in retaliation for exercising your rights under the worker’s compensation statute.

What happens after we settle the case or go to trial? Am I going to be responsible to pay for future treatment out of my own pocket?

After a case is settled or tried to conclusion, if you are awarded something under the worker’s compensation statute, you will receive either a lump sum monetary benefit, or future monetary benefits/treatment depending on the extent and date of your injury. You generally have TWO YEARS from the date of the last receipt of benefits (monetary or medical) to re-open your case to seek additional treatment and potentially additional compensation. A case can be re-opened as many times as necessary until the injury becomes a total permanent disability so long as you do it within the appropriate time-frame and there are medical reasons to do so. This applies only if the case is settled under what the Court calls an Order Approving Settlement, or the case is tried and the judge rules in your favor. All workers’ compensation settlements have to be approved by a Judge of Workers’ Compensation in court. In a Section 20 settlement these re-opener rights do not exist. An experienced workers’ compensation attorney can explain this process in much more detail, so feel free to call us for a free initial consultation.

What is a Section 20 settlement?

Section 20 of the worker’s compensation statute allows for a lump sum payment to an injured worker in exchange for dismissing the case and giving up your right to re-open your case and seek additional treatment or benefits from the workers’ compensation insurance company.. This means no additional money and no additional treatment even if the injury or symptoms become worse. These settlements also require the injured worker to pay the entire 20% attorney’s fee out of their settlement in addition to the fees for medical evaluations and/or records. This type of settlement occurs most commonly if there is question about whether the injury is permanent, or questions about how the injury happened that would make your case difficult or impossible to prove at trial. The judge must approve this settlement and the reasoning behind the settlement even if both parties are in agreement on the terms.

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