While the work-related nature of some harm is clear, in other instances, an employer may deny that an employee suffered an illness or injury due to work conditions. Thus, the matter of whether an employer owes an employee workers’ compensation benefits will have to be decided in court. Recently, a New Jersey court addressed an issue where an appellate court overturns an initial ruling that an employee suffered work-related harm, if the employee may be compelled to repay any benefits he or she received. If you suffered an illness or injury due to conditions you encountered at work, it is advisable to confer with a dedicated New Jersey workers’ compensation attorney to assess your rights.

Facts and Procedural History

It is reported that the employee requested workers’ compensation benefits, alleging that he suffered harm due to exposure to toxic substances in the workplace. The employer denied that the employee suffered a work-related injury, and therefore the employee filed a claim against the employer. A trial was held, after which a judge of compensation awarded the employee temporary disability benefits, permanent disability benefits, and costs. The employee appealed and filed a motion to stay the case pending resolution of the appeal.

Allegedly, the judge of compensation denied the stay, but orally proscribed that if the decision was overturned, the employee might be required to repay the employer any benefits paid during the pendency of the appeal. While the parties were waiting for a ruling on the appeal, the employer paid the employee almost $117,000 in benefits. The appeal was subsequently granted, after which the employer filed a motion seeking reimbursement of the benefits paid. The judge of compensation denied the employer’s motion, stating that jurisdiction remained with the appellate court, after which the employer appealed. Continue Reading ›

It is well-known that in order for an employee to recover workers’ compensation benefits, the employee’s injury must be work-related. It may not be entirely clear, though, which party bears the burden of proving whether or not an employee sustained an injury at work. In a recent New Jersey workers’ compensation case, the court clarified which party bears the burden of proving the nature of an employee’s injury. If you sustained a work-related injury, you might be owed workers’ compensation benefits, and you should consult a skillful New Jersey workers’ compensation attorney as soon as possible.

The Plaintiff’s Injury

It is reported that the plaintiff suffered an injury to her shoulder while she was undergoing physical therapy for an injury to her right wrist that she sustained at work. As such, she filed a claim for workers’ compensation benefits, alleging that she either tore her rotator cuff or aggravated an existing tear, and that the injury was work-related. The defendant employer denied that the plaintiff’s shoulder injury was work-related. As such, the plaintiff filed a motion to recover benefits. The judge of compensation denied the plaintiff’s motion, finding that she had not sustained her burden of proving her injury was work-related and that her claim was compensable. The plaintiff appealed the denial of her motion, arguing that the judge improperly shifted the burden of proof from the defendant to the plaintiff.

The Burden of Proving the Nature of an Employee’s Injury

On appeal, the plaintiff argued that when a defendant claims an accident was caused by an employee’s physical condition, the employee bears the burden of establishing causation and that the defendant failed to show that the plaintiff’s injury was idiopathic. The appellate court disagreed, stating that while it is a fundamental truth that the language of the New Jersey Workers’ Compensation Act is to be liberally construed in favor of a claimant, a claimant nonetheless bears the burden of proving that an accident caused a compensable injury. Continue Reading ›

In workers’ compensation cases, a court will generally try to balance the competing interests by providing an injured employee with benefits he or she is owed and protecting the due process rights of all parties. Recently, a New Jersey court discussed due process rights in workers’ compensation matters in a case in which an employer alleged its rights were violated due to an expedited trial. If you were injured at work, you might be able to recover workers’ compensation benefits, and you should speak to a trusted New Jersey workers’ compensation attorney to discuss your rights.

The Claimant’s Injury and Procedural History

It is reported that the claimant worked as a domestic helper for a rabbi and his wife. The rabbi was employed by a Jewish center and lived in a home provided by the center. During the course of her employment, the claimant slipped and fell down the stairs, suffering injuries to her left knee and back. The claimant subsequently sought workers’ compensation benefits from the center and from the rabbi and his wife. In turn, the center joined a rabbinical college, claiming the college employed the claimant. A judge of compensation then converted a conference prior to trial to a motion for temporary medical and disability benefits, awarding the claimant benefits and dismissing the claims against the rabbinical college. The center appealed, arguing its due process rights had been violated. After review, the appellate court affirmed.

Due Process Rights in Workers’ Compensation Cases

Under the New Jersey Workers’ Compensation Act (the Act) a motion for temporary medical or disability benefits must show that a claimant is currently temporarily disabled or needs medical treatment. If only past periods of disability are claimed, the issues should be presented at pretrial or trial and not resolved via a motion. The center argued that by allowing the claimant to testify during a pretrial conference, the fundamental elements of the Act were violated. However, the appellate court noted that the Act allows for accelerated scheduling. Further, the appellate court noted that at a prior hearing, the court advised the parties it would permit the claimant to testify at the pretrial conference. Continue Reading ›

In New Jersey, a person that suffers an injury at work may be eligible to recover workers’ compensation benefits. However, there are certain factors that determine whether a person may be awarded benefits, such as whether the person is an employee or an independent contractor and whether the person was engaged in the scope and course of his or her work. As discussed in a recent New Jersey case, generally, an employee that suffers an injury while traveling to or from work is not considered to be engaged in work-related activity and cannot recover benefits. If you suffered an injury while working, it is prudent to meet with a knowledgeable New Jersey workers’ compensation attorney to discuss whether you may be owed benefits.

Facts Regarding the Plaintiff’s Injury

It is reported that the plaintiff, a nurse, parked her car in the parking lot across the street from the hospital in which she worked. She was crossing the street to go to work when she was struck by a vehicle. She suffered a concussion, multiple fractures, and other injuries. She subsequently filed a claim for workers’ compensation benefits. Her employer denied her claim, and a judge of compensation ultimately ruled that her injuries did not arise in the course and scope of her employment. The plaintiff appealed, but on appeal, the appellate court affirmed the dismissal of her claims.

Benefits for Injuries Suffered While Traveling To or From Work

Pursuant to New Jersey’s Workers’ Compensation Act (the Act), employees that suffer injuries while they are in the course of their employment have the right to recover workers’ compensation benefits. While the general law previously provided that injuries incurred while traveling to or from work were not compensable, there were numerous exceptions. Thus, the legislature enacted what is known as the premises rule. Continue Reading ›

In New Jersey, an employee that suffers an injury may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. There are specific things an employee must prove to recover such benefits, however, such as the work-related nature of the injury. In a recent New Jersey case in which the employer appealed an order granting an employee workers’ compensation benefits, the court discussed the burden of proving causation in workers’ compensation cases. If you were injured at work, you may be owed benefits from your employer, and it is in your best interest to speak to a dedicated New Jersey workers’ compensation attorney to assess your rights.

Facts of the Case

It is reported that the plaintiff injured his left foot and ankle while working as a roofer for the defendant. The plaintiff then filed a workers’ compensation petition, seeking benefits for his injuries. In its answer to the petition, the defendant denied that the plaintiff’s injuries were work-related, but provided benefits without an admission of liability. The plaintiff subsequently filed multiple motions seeking temporary disability benefits, which the defendant opposed on the grounds the injuries were not work-related. The majority of the motions were resolved without a hearing.

Allegedly, however, in 2019, a hearing was held on a pending motion in which the plaintiff sought benefits for a proposed surgery. The court entered an order continuing temporary disability benefits and requiring the defendant to authorize the surgery, but did not opine on the defendant’s continued argument that the plaintiff’s injuries were not work-related. The defendant then appealed. Continue Reading ›

In most instances in which an employee suffers harm while working, the New Jersey Workers’ Compensation Law (the Law) provides the employee’s exclusive remedy. There is an exception, though, for cases in which the employer commits an intentional wrong. Proving an employer’s intentional act caused an employee’s harm can be difficult, as discussed in a recent New Jersey case.  If you suffered an injury while you were working, it is prudent to speak to an attorney regarding what benefits you may be able to recover and whether you may be able to pursue any other claims.

Facts of the Case

Reportedly, the plaintiff and his co-worker were involved in a car accident. The co-worker was driving a vehicle owned by the defendant for whom they worked. The plaintiff suffered severe injuries, after which he filed a lawsuit against the co-worker and defendant seeking compensation for his harm. The defendant filed a motion for summary judgment, in which it argued that the plaintiff’s claims were barred by the Law. The court granted the defendant’s motion, and the plaintiff appealed, arguing that his claims fell under the intentional act exception of the exclusivity provisions of the Law. The appellate court disagreed and affirmed the trial court ruling.

Proving an Intentional Wrong

On appeal, the appellate court explained that under the test for determining whether an intentional wrong had been committed, a plaintiff must show more than a mere appreciation or knowledge of risk. In other words, the appellate court stated that a defendant that engages in an act that he or she knows or believes places another person at risk for harm may be negligent but is not committing an intentional wrong. The appellate court elaborated, however, that an intentional act is not limited to actions taken with a wish to cause harm but also acts the employer commits despite the knowledge that such acts are substantially certain to cause harm. The appellate court also noted that there is a high bar to proving substantial certainty and that knowledge that an act may result in death or evidence of gross negligence or a complete lack of concern for an employee’s health is insufficient to demonstrate intent. Continue Reading ›

While some workplace injuries resolve in a relatively short time, others result in permanent disabilities. If an employee is permanently disabled due to a work-related injury, he or she may be entitled to permanent disability workers’ compensation benefits. An employee must meet certain requirements to prove a permanent disability, as discussed in a recent case in which an employer disputed whether an employee was entitled to permanent disability benefits. If you sustained an injury at work that left you permanently unable to earn an income, you should confer with an experienced New Jersey workers’ compensation attorney about what benefits you may be owed.

Facts of the Case

Allegedly, the employee worked as a framer for the employer construction company. The employee fell off a sixteen-foot scaffold and suffered injuries to his ankles and right shoulder, after which he filed a petition for workers’ compensation benefits. He underwent a surgical reduction of the fractures in his ankles that involved the installation of plates and screws, and arthroscopic surgery in his shoulder. Following his surgeries, the employee continued to suffer swelling and pain in both his shoulder and in his ankles.

It is reported that during the trial, the employee testified that his injuries prevented him from returning to work as a framer. The employee also presented testimony from medical experts who opined on the extent of the employee’s limitations and the percentage of the employee’s disabilities in his shoulders and in each ankle. The employer presented medical expert testimony in opposition to the plaintiff’s experts. The judge ultimately ruled that the employee suffered a forty-five percent partial total disability, after which the employer appealed. Continue Reading ›

Employees that suffer work-related injuries may be entitled to certain workers’ compensation benefits, including medical treatment. Specifically, New Jersey’s Workers’ Compensation Law (the Law) provides that employers must provide employees with any medical treatment that is necessary and reasonable. Recently, a New Jersey appellate court analyzed whether an employer’s duty to provide an employee with medical treatment includes the duty to compensate an employee for the cost of marijuana that was prescribed under the New Jersey Medical Marijuana Act (the Act). If you were injured at work, you may be eligible to recover workers’ compensation benefits, including medical treatment, and you should speak to a New Jersey workers’ compensation attorney about your rights.

Facts of the Case

It is alleged that in 2001, the employee suffered an injury while working for the employer. Specifically, he suffered herniation and bulging of discs in his lumbar spine when a dump truck emptied a load of concrete onto him. The employee filed a workers’ compensation claim, but the employer disputed that the employee’s injuries were work-related. The employee then underwent a variety of treatments, including surgery and the use of opioid pain medication, which he paid for himself, but he continued to suffer from chronic debilitating pain. He then began treating with a doctor who specialized in palliative care, who ultimately determined that the employee was a candidate for a medical marijuana program.

Reportedly, fifteen years after the injury occurred, a workers’ compensation trial was held to determine what benefits, if any, the employer owed the employee. At that time, the employer stipulated that the employee suffered a work-related injury but argued it was not obligated to reimburse the employee for the cost of his medical marijuana. Specifically, the employer argued that paying for medical marijuana would be tantamount to aiding and abetting a crime. The court ultimately found in favor of the employee and determined that employers were not exempt from reimbursing employees for the cost of medical marijuana treatment. The employer appealed the trial court ruling. Continue Reading ›

Generally, New Jersey’s Workers’ Compensation Law (the Law) provides the sole remedy for an employee who is injured at work. However, there are some exceptions that allow an employee to pursue claims against an employer in a civil lawsuit in addition to recovering workers’ compensation benefits, such as when an employer engages in an intentional act that leads to the employee’s harm. The intentional act exception to the exclusivity provision of the Law was discussed in a recent New Jersey case in which an employee filed a civil lawsuit against his employer after he suffered an amputation of his left arm due to a work injury. If you suffered a work-related injury, you should speak to a capable New Jersey workers’ compensation attorney regarding whether you may be able to recover civil damages in addition to workers’ compensation benefits.

Facts Regarding the Employee’s Injury

It is alleged that the employee worked for the employer as an electromechanical technician. The employee’s job duties included servicing, repairing, and maintaining large industrial machines. While servicing a machine in 2015, the employee suffered an injury that required him to undergo amputation below the elbow of his left arm. The employee subsequently filed a workers’ compensation claim and was awarded over one million dollars in benefits. He then filed a lawsuit against the employer in which he alleged he was owed civil damages as well because his employer violated the intentional wrong exception of the Law. The employer filed a motion for summary judgment, asking the court to dismiss the employee’s civil claims. The court found the employee set forth sufficient evidence in support of his claims and denied the employer’s motion.

In New Jersey, a person who suffers injuries while working may be eligible to recover workers’ compensation benefits but only if he or she meets the requirements set forth under New Jersey’s Workers’ Compensation Law (the Law). Specifically, in order to recover benefits a person must demonstrate not only that he or she suffered an injury during the course and scope of work, but also that he or she had an employee-employer relationship with the entity for whom he or she was working at the time of the injury. Thus, if a person cannot prove that he or she was an employee at the time the harm occurred, his or her claim for benefits will be denied, as shown in a recent New Jersey workers’ compensation case. If you were injured while working, it is wise to speak to a seasoned New Jersey workers’ compensation attorney to examine whether you may be eligible to recover benefits.

Facts Regarding the Plaintiff’s Work

It is reported that the plaintiff filed a workers’ compensation petition, seeking benefits for an injury to his right hand that he allegedly sustained while he was working for the defendant. The defendant contested the plaintiff’s petition, arguing that the plaintiff was not his employee when the injury occurred. During a hearing, the parties presented conflicting testimony regarding when the plaintiff was hired and the extent of his job duties.

Allegedly, following the hearing, the judge found in favor of the plaintiff and awarded the plaintiff workers’ compensation benefits. The defendant filed a motion for reconsideration, arguing that the workers’ compensation judge failed to articulate any basis for finding the plaintiff was an employee. The appellate court agreed with the defendant’s reasoning and reversed the judge’s order and remanded the case for further proceedings. Continue Reading ›

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