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.
Proving a Disability is Work-Related
An appellate court’s review of a workers’ compensation case is limited to determining whether the findings could have been reached on adequate credible evidence that existed in the record while being mindful of the agency’s expertise. Thus, an appellate court will not substitute its own fact finding for that of the compensation judge. Instead, it must defer to the findings of fact made by the compensation judge in consideration of the evidence as a whole, being mindful of the judge’s ability to assess the credibility of the witnesses.
In other words, an appellate court will defer to a judge of compensation’s findings unless they are completely lacking in evidentiary support or are inconsistent with relevant and credible evidence so as to offend the interests of justice. In the subject case, the court found that there was ample evidence in the record to support the judge of compensation’s findings. Thus, the judge’s ruling was affirmed.
Speak to an Experienced New Jersey Workers’ Compensation Attorney
While many people recover from work-related harm, some do not and are rendered permanently disabled. If you suffered an injury at work and no longer work, the experienced New Jersey workers’ compensation attorneys of The Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall can help you seek total disability benefits and any other compensation you may be owed for your losses. You can reach us through or form online or by calling us at 800-999-0897 to set up a consultation.