Workplace injuries are unfortunately common, but most people that are injured at work can pursue workers’ compensation benefits from their employer. While employees who file workers’ compensation claims are within their rights, some employers perceive such claims as a slight and will take retaliatory action against the employee. Terminating an employee due to a workplace injury is unlawful, though, and employees who are unjustly fired may be owed damages. Recently, a New Jersey court discussed what a plaintiff must allege to proceed on a retaliatory firing claim. If you lost your job after being hurt at work, you may be owed compensation and should speak to a skilled New Jersey workers’ compensation attorney about your options.

Factual Background of the Case

It is alleged that the plaintiff suffered multiple work-related injuries while he was employed by the defendant. The injuries occurred in the summer and fall of 2008 and 2011. The plaintiff received workers’ compensation medical benefits for his injuries through April 2014, when it was determined that he could return to his job without any restrictions. The plaintiff returned to work full duty in May 2014. He was fired in July 2015.

Reportedly, the plaintiff asserted that the cause of his termination was due to him being absent due to work-related injuries. He filed a lawsuit against the defendant, alleging he was fired in violation of the New Jersey Workers’ Compensation Act. The defendant moved to dismiss the plaintiff’s claims, arguing the plaintiff failed to demonstrate a causal link between his firing and his injury. Continue Reading ›

Typically, when an employee suffers an injury in the workplace that entitles the employee to workers’ compensation benefits, it will be due to an accident. In cases in which the harm incurred is not clearly an accident, however, an employer may dispute whether it is compensable. The standards for determining whether harm is both accidental and work-related were discussed in a recent New Jersey ruling in which the employer argued that the employee’s injuries were not covered by the Workers’ Compensation Act because they arose out of a skirmish with another employee. If you suffered harm while working, you may be entitled to benefits and should meet with an experienced New Jersey workers’ compensation attorney as soon as possible to discuss your rights.

The Plaintiff’s Harm

It is reported that the plaintiff entered the locker room where another employee was sitting on a bench. He asked the employee to move his legs so he could pass by, but the employee refused. The plaintiff jumped over the employee’s legs but was unable to clear them entirely. The employee then became angry and threw a cup of soda at the plaintiff, after which the plaintiff left the locker room.

Allegedly, the plaintiff returned to the locker room a few minutes later to wash his hands and again encountered the employee who was holding a pizza box. The employee pushed the box in the plaintiff’s direction, after which the plaintiff swung his arm, accidentally hitting the employee’s hat. The employee then shoved the plaintiff, which caused the plaintiff to fall and injure his shoulder. The plaintiff filed a workers’ compensation claim, but the defendant opposed the claim, arguing that the plaintiff’s injury was not accidental.

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Under the New Jersey Workers’ Compensation Act (the Act), employers are required to provide employees who suffer work-related harm with workers’ compensation benefits, including medical benefits. In some cases, though, even if an employer concedes that an employee is eligible to recover benefits, it may dispute what treatment is reasonable and necessary. The process for determining whether novel treatments are covered under the Act was recently discussed by a New Jersey court opinion in a case in which the employer denied the employee’s claim for the cost of stem cell therapy. If you were hurt at work, you should speak to a skillful New Jersey workers’ compensation attorney to discuss what medical treatment your employer may be required to provide for your injuries.

History of the Case

It is alleged that the plaintiff, who worked as a housekeeper for the defendant, injured her right bicep and shoulder while making a bed and required surgery for her injuries. She then injured her cervical spine and left shoulder a few months later and underwent a second surgery. She filed workers’ compensation claims for both sets of injuries, and an order was entered granting her disability and medical benefits that approved treatment with an orthopedist. Traditional treatment methods failed, and her treating doctors recommended that she undergo stem cell treatment for her shoulder.

Reportedly, the plaintiff filed a motion for medical benefits asking the court to order the defendant to pay for her stem cell therapy and attached a report from her doctor advising the treatment was the last option before surgery and therefore was medically necessary. The defendant opposed the motion arguing the treatment was not approved by the FDA. A discussion was held in chambers, and the court found in favor of the plaintiff, after which the defendant appealed. Continue Reading ›

It is commonly understood that a person that suffers an injury while working may be able to recover workers’ compensation benefits. If a person hurt on the job sustains subsequent harm, however, there may be a dispute over the nature of the injury and whether it is compensable. This was demonstrated in a recent New Jersey opinion in which the court rejected the plaintiff’s claim that her work injury rendered her totally disabled. If you are unable to work due to an injury on the job, you may be entitled to benefits, and it is advisable to speak to a seasoned New Jersey workers’ compensation attorney about your disability.

The Plaintiff’s Harm

It is reported that in 1999 the plaintiff suffered injuries in a work-related car accident while she was employed with the defendant. In 2003, she was awarded partial permanent disability benefits for bulging discs in the cervical and lumbar spine. In 2002, the plaintiff was involved in a second car crash in which she injured her knees and back. Then, in 2005, the plaintiff sought a modification of her damages award, alleging her injuries had worsened. The matter was tried in 2016. The court noted that the plaintiff had fallen twenty-eight times since her initial accident, causing fractures and increased neck and back pain.

Allegedly, she also required care from a home health aide and was rendered totally disabled by an expert who examined her in 2011, 2014, and 2016, noting she reported the same symptoms each time. The workers’ compensation judge reviewed her medical records and found her testimony to be unreliable and stated that she failed to establish causation. Thus, the judge found no causal connection between the plaintiff’s current condition and the 1999 accident, and the plaintiff’s petition for a modification was dismissed with prejudice. The plaintiff appealed, but on appeal, the appellate court affirmed the trial court ruling. Continue Reading ›

Many people throughout New Jersey have more than one job. Accordingly, when a person employed by multiple parties suffers a work-related injury, it may render the person unable to perform the duties of more than one position. Generally, a person who is hurt at work can recover workers’ compensation income lost as a result of the injury, regardless of whether the income was from one or multiple jobs, as discussed in a recent New Jersey case. If you were hurt while working, you may be owed income loss benefits and should talk to a knowledgeable New Jersey workers’ compensation attorney regarding your potential claims.

The Plaintiff’s Harm

It is reported that in 2009, the plaintiff worked part-time for the defendant employer as a stadium usher and full-time as a stock clerk for a box store. She suffered a compensable injury while working at her part-time job. Specifically, she sustained a left femur fracture when the door of a freight elevator fell on her leg. She underwent surgery on her leg and was on medical leave from her full-time job for nine months. She then returned to her previous full-time position in a part-time capacity due to medical restrictions.

Allegedly, the box store refused to hold her full-time position, and she declined to accept a permanent part-time position, so she was terminated. She later re-applied for a full-time position but was not hired. She ultimately returned to her job with the defendant employer but lost the position due to reasons unrelated to her accident. The plaintiff applied for workers’ compensation benefits, and following a hearing, the judge found that she was not entitled to full-time benefits because she failed to prove she lacked the ability to work full-time. She then appealed. Continue Reading ›

While under the New Jersey Workers’ Compensation Act, employers are required to provide eligible employees who suffer work injuries with medical and disability benefits, many employers will argue that such benefits are not warranted. As such, in some cases, a workers’ compensation judge will be called on to determine whether an injury is compensable, and if so, what benefits the employee is owed. A judge’s basis for making such determinations was recently discussed in a case in which an employer admitted an employee’s injury was work-related but denied that it prevented him from working. If you work in New Jersey and sustained a work-related injury, it is prudent to talk to a capable New Jersey workers’ compensation attorney to determine your rights.

History of the Case

It is alleged that the plaintiff worked for the defendant as a laborer. He was injured in a single-vehicle accident when he was driving a truck owned by the defendant after leaving the defendant’s concrete plant. He was terminated the day after the accident for failing to submit to a drug test following the accident. The plaintiff suffered substantial injuries because of the accident and filed a workers’ compensation petition.

It is reported that the defendant originally denied that the plaintiff suffered a work-related injury. It later admitted the injury was compensable and paid the plaintiff medical benefits but denied that the injury prevented the plaintiff from working. The plaintiff then filed a motion for disability benefits. Following a hearing, the judge granted the plaintiff disability benefits and delay damages, and the defendant appealed. Continue Reading ›

In many instances, when an employee suffers an injury at work, the employer may not want to pay the employee any workers’ compensation benefits. As such, in an attempt to enact revenge or to prevent the employee from filing a claim for benefits, the employer may terminate the employee’s position. Although New Jersey is an at-will employment state, under certain circumstances, it is unlawful for a person to be fired, such as when it is done in retaliation for filing a workers’ compensation claim. If you sustained injuries in a work accident and you were subsequently fired, it is in your best interest to speak to a knowledgeable New Jersey workers’ compensation attorney to evaluate your options.

The Plaintiff’s Injury and Termination

It is alleged that the plaintiff worked for the defendant as a retail sales consultant. In 2015, when the plaintiff was opening the store he worked in, he fell and injured his back, right shoulder and hand. He filed a claim for workers’ compensation benefits and the defendant indicated it intended to contest the claim. However, the plaintiff’s petition for benefits was granted, and he was on medical leave for approximately nine months.

Reportedly, while the plaintiff was on leave, it was determined that he engaged in a personal purchase that was improper under company policy. When the employee returned from leave, he was terminated. He then filed a lawsuit against the defendant, alleging in part that the defendant violated the New Jersey Workers’ Compensation Act (the Act) by firing the plaintiff in retaliation for filing a workers’ compensation claim. After discovery, the defendant filed a motion for summary judgment. Continue Reading ›

It is not uncommon for an employee to live in New Jersey and work in Pennsylvania, or, to be engaged in work activities in both states. Thus, if the employee suffers an injury, it may not immediately be apparent which state’s workers’ compensation laws apply. Recently, a New Jersey court discussed the grounds for determining the applicability of a state’s compensation act in a case in which a resident of New Jersey who was injured while working in Pennsylvania filed claims with the New Jersey Workers’ Compensation division. If you were hurt at work, you might be owed benefits, and it is prudent to consult a skillful New Jersey workers’ compensation attorney regarding your rights.

Facts of the Case

It is alleged that the claimant, who lives in New Jersey, filed two claims petitions with the Division of Workers’ Compensation (the Division) seeking benefits from his employer. The first claim alleged that the claimant suffered an injury to his hip while working for his employer in Philadelphia in 2015. The second claim alleged that the claimant suffered an occupational injury to his hip due to repetitive motions while he was performing his job duties from 1986 to the present, at the employer’s site in Philadelphia.

It is reported that the employer moved to have both petitions dismissed due to a lack of jurisdiction. Specifically, it argued the claimant did not work in New Jersey, the accident did not occur there, and the employer did not have any contact with the state. Following a hearing, a judge granted the defendant’s motion. The plaintiff then appealed. Continue Reading ›

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.

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Under New Jersey law, people injured at work are generally limited to seeking benefits for their harm via workers’ compensation claims. There are some exceptions, however, that allow a party to pursue civil claims as well. For example, an employee may recover compensation from an employer if the employee can show that the harm suffered was caused by an intentional act. If you were hurt while working, you may be able to pursue damages in a civil lawsuit against your employer in addition to recovering workers’ compensation benefits, and you should consult a New Jersey workers’ compensation attorney to assess your potential claims.

Facts of the Case

It is reported that the plaintiff was injured while working for the defendant when an off-road utility vehicle that he was operating rolled over. The plaintiff then filed a lawsuit against the company that leased the vehicle to the defendant and the company that manufactured the vehicle. The defendant was joined as a third-party defendant by the leasing company, and ultimately the plaintiff sought leave to amend his complaint to assert direct claims against the defendant. The defendant opposed the plaintiff’s request for leave, arguing that the amendment would be futile because the plaintiff’s proposed claims were barred by the exclusivity provision of the New Jersey Worker’s Compensation Act (the Act).

The Intentional Wrong Exception to the Exclusivity Provision of the Act

The Act specifically provides that it is the sole remedy for an employee injured in the scope and course of his or her employment. There is an exception under the Act, however, for harm that arises out of an employer’s intentional wrong. The New Jersey courts have explained that to establish an intentional tort claim, an employee must show that the employer knowingly exposed the employee to a significant certainty of injury and that the injury the employee suffered was not a fact of life working in an industrial industry but was clearly beyond anything that the Act was meant to immunize. Continue Reading ›

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