Articles Posted in Work Injuries

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. Continue Reading ›

It is well-established that employees that suffer work-related injuries can seek workers’ compensation benefits from their employer’s insurers, while people who are not employees are generally precluded from such coverage. In some instances, though, it is not clear whether a party is considered an employee and is owed benefits or is a worker that must pursue damages for a workplace injury via civil litigation. Recently, a New Jersey court discussed the existence of a special employee-employer relationship in an opinion issued in a case in which the defendant argued the plaintiff’s lawsuit was barred by the exclusivity provision of the Workers’ Compensation Act (the Act). If you were injured while working, it is advisable to meet with a seasoned New Jersey workers’ compensation attorney to discuss your potential claims.

The Employee’s Injury

It is alleged that the plaintiff worked in a warehouse owned by the defendant. While working, the plaintiff suffered an injury in a forklift accident. He then filed a lawsuit against the defendant, alleging that the defendant negligently directed him to ride as a passenger on the forklift, which violated OSHA regulations. The defendant filed a motion to dismiss, arguing that it had a special employer-employee relationship with the plaintiff, and therefore the plaintiff’s exclusive remedy was a workers’ compensation claim. The court agreed, dismissing the plaintiff’s claim, and the plaintiff appealed.

Special Employee-Employer Relationships in the Context of Workers’ Compensation

New Jersey courts conduct a five-part test to determine whether a worker is a special employee of an employer for purposes of the Act. Specifically, the court will examine whether: the employer entered into an express or implied contract of hire with the employee; the work done by the employee constitutes the essential work of the employer; the employer has the right to control the details of the employee’s work; the employer pays the employee’s wages; and, the employer has the right to terminate or hire the employee. 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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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 ›

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 ›

Under New Jersey law, employers are required to provide employees that are injured at work with workers’ compensation benefits in most instances. Additionally, employers are prohibited from firing employees for filing workers’ compensation claims. Unfortunately, many employers choose not to abide by the law and will terminate employees for seeking benefits they are entitled to recover. If you were terminated after filing a workers’ compensation claim you might be able to assert additional claims against your employer, and it is in your best interest to speak to a dedicated New Jersey workers’ compensation attorney as soon as possible.

Facts of the Case

It is reported that the plaintiff worked as a field account representative for the defendant, which required him to travel extensively. In November of 2016, the plaintiff was involved in a car accident while working, which caused him to sustain significant injuries including herniated discs. As such, he filed a workers’ compensation claim. He then learned from a co-worker that his manager was displeased that the plaintiff hired an attorney to represent him in his workers’ compensation claim.

Allegedly, the plaintiff reported that he was discriminated against for filing a workers’ compensation claim, after which the terms of his employment were changed. He was eventually terminated in November 2018. He then filed a lawsuit against the defendant asserting numerous claims, including retaliation in violation of New Jersey’s workers’ compensation law. The defendant filed a motion to dismiss numerous claims asserted by the plaintiff. Continue Reading ›

In many instances in which an employee suffers an injury at work, the employer will argue that the harm was not work-related. Thus, the employee must file a petition seeking workers’ compensation benefits, and the court will weigh the evidence produced by each party to determine if the employee’s claim is valid. Only certain evidence will be considered, however, and an employer that fails to introduce valid evidence may ultimately lose the right to object to the employee’s claims, as discussed in a recent New Jersey workers’ compensation case. If you were hurt at work and your employer is disputing that you are owed benefits, it is in your best interest to speak to a trusted New Jersey workers’ compensation attorney regarding your claims.

History of the Case

It is reported that the plaintiff, who worked as a laborer for the defendant, suffered injuries during the course of his employment. Specifically, he hurt his back, shoulder, and neck while lifting heavy logs. He then filed a petition seeking workers’ compensation benefits. The defendant filed an answer past the deadline, arguing that the plaintiff’s injuries were not work-related. The plaintiff then filed a motion for medical and temporary disability benefits (MMT). In support of the MMT, the plaintiff provided an affidavit of his attorney that set forth the facts regarding the plaintiff’s injury and treatment and stated the plaintiff’s physician recommended that he undergo surgery.

Allegedly, the defendant refused to authorize the surgery. As such, the plaintiff asked the court to compel the defendant to provide treatment by a certain date. The defendant did not reply to the MMT until the day before the hearing and did not provide an affidavit in support of its position. Thus, the court considered the MMT as unopposed and granted it, after which the defendant 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 ›

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