Our team is passionate about getting clients the compensation they need. Recently, attorney Lisa J. Pezzano testified before the New Jersey Labor Committee on the topic of workers’ compensation permanent disability benefits. Lisa shares the story of one of her clients and explains why this bill is so important to New Jersey citizens.
I had the pleasure of testifying recently before the N.J. Senate Labor Committee regarding Bill No. 782, which increases workers’ compensation permanent disability benefits for the loss of a hand or foot. As anyone familiar with the law knows, our state provides woefully insufficient compensation to workers with injuries to their extremities. One of my clients, Aimee, was kind enough to join me in Trenton to share her experience with the Committee.
Aimee fractured her right (dominant) wrist in 2010, when she was working her way through college as a bartender. She underwent three surgeries and was unable to continue bartending, so she had to leave college. Eight years later, she continues to drop things because of the injury and still uses a brace on her hand. She received a workers’ compensation award of 35 percent — a pretty high disability level, right? Guess what dollar amount she received for a 35 percent loss in the use of her hand: $14,285.09, which net her at approximately $12,000 after cost and fees. Let me repeat that: three surgeries, causing her to drop out of college, and a future which most likely includes developing arthritis. For that she received a grand total award of only $14,000.
The “hand and foot bill” proposes to increase the number of weeks of benefits paid for more serious injuries to the extremities (defined as a 25 percent or greater disability) to 300 weeks of compensation for a total loss of a hand or foot. For example, if Aimee’s injury occurred in 2018 (the rates change every year), she would have received a gross award of $20,665.75 for a loss of 35 percent of her hand usability. If this bill becomes law, the same injury will result in an award of $24,676.75. This modest increase in benefits is long overdue. Thank you for sharing your story, Aimee!