New Jersey Court Discusses Workers’ Compensation Benefits for Longshoremen

While New Jersey, like most states, has its own workers’ compensation act, there are other workers’ compensation acts that may apply to New Jersey employees based upon their professions. For example, maritime employees who suffer injuries while working may be eligible for benefits under the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA). In a recently delivered opinion, a New Jersey district court discussed the factors considered in assessing whether an employment relationship exists for purposes of the LHWCA. If you suffered an injury while working in New Jersey, it is advisable to speak to a capable New Jersey workers’ compensation attorney regarding your rights.

The Plaintiff’s Injury and Allegations

It is reported that the plaintiff filed a lawsuit against the defendant employer, asserting negligence claims. The case was transferred to a New Jersey district court. Following discovery, the defendant filed a motion for summary judgment. In support of its motion, the defendant argued that it was statutorily immune from liability due to the fact that it employed the plaintiff and the exclusivity provision of the LHWCA barred employees from pursuing tort claims against their employers. The plaintiff opposed the motion, arguing that the issue of whether he was an employee should be decided by the jury. Ultimately, the court found the evidence supported the defendant’s arguments and granted its motion, dismissing the plaintiff’s claims.

Employment Relationships Under the LHWCA

The LHWCA establishes a workers’ compensation program that provides longshoremen with a variety of benefits. Like other workers’ compensation laws, the rights provided under the LHWCA extinguish an employee’s common law right to pursue tort claims against an employer, limiting an employer’s liability to the payment of no-fault payments.

Employees eligible for benefits include any individuals engaged in maritime work, including repairmen. Although in some cases, an employee may pursue negligence claims against his employer, employees engaged in repair work cannot. Based on the foregoing, the court found that the defendant must have been the plaintiff’s employer at the time of the alleged injury to have immunity under the LHWCA.

Whether an employee-employer relationship exists is a mixed question of fact and law. In evaluating factual issues related to a person’s employment status, the main inquiry centers around the degree of control exercised over an individual by the alleged employer. In the subject case, based on the evidence of record, the court found that the defendant employed the plaintiff. Specifically, the court found that the defendant had the ability to hire or fire the plaintiff, was responsible for paying him, and directed and supervised his work. Thus, the plaintiff’s claims were dismissed.

Meet with a Capable New Jersey Workers’ Compensation Attorney

People hurt at work often can recover workers’ compensation benefits, but only if they can prove the existence of an employment relationship. If you suffered a workplace injury, you might be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits and should speak to an attorney. The capable New Jersey workers’ compensation attorneys of The Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall can inform you of your options and assist you in pursuing the best legal outcome available. You can contact us through our form online or call us at 800-999-0897 to set up a meeting.

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