New Jersey Court Discusses Attorneys’ Fees in Workers’ Compensation Claims

When an employee dies due to an occupational illness, his or her surviving spouse may be awarded benefits. Additionally, the surviving spouse may be granted attorneys’ fees. Recently, a New Jersey court assessed the proper method for calculating attorney’s fees in a case in which the claimant’s husband died due to an illness sustained at work. If you lost your spouse due to a work-related injury or illness, you may be able to recover workers’ compensation benefits and should speak to a knowledgeable New Jersey workers’ compensation attorney as soon as possible.

Facts and Procedural History

It is reported that the claimant’s husband died due to an occupational disease, after which she filed a claim for workers’ compensation death benefits. The court issued an order granting benefits as well as attorneys’ fees that were calculated based on the claimant’s life expectancy. The employer appealed, arguing that the court erred in calculating the appropriate award for attorneys’ fees. On appeal, the appellate court affirmed the lower court ruling.

Calculation of Attorneys’ Fees in Workers’ Compensation Claims

The New Jersey Workers’ Compensation Act provides that compensation for a total permanent disability should be paid to qualified workers for 450 weeks, and may be extended in instances where the claimant can show that his or her disability caused an inability to earn an income equal to that which he or she earned at the time of the accident or onset of illness. Additionally, the law provides that any dependents that survive a deceased worker will be granted benefits as well, for 450 weeks and, in some cases, longer.