Anyone who saw the Super Bowl last January witnessed the impact the crowd noise had on the players on the field. The ‘12th Man’, as the fans in Seattle are known, has become famous for the extreme noise levels. The problem is, exposure to this type of excessive noise can cause permanent hearing loss. A… Continue Reading
Recent news stories have highlighted awareness of the dangers of digital data being exposed after breaches of security. Digital data is not only exposed after breaches in security, such data can be exposed by an individual posting information that adversely affects their claim for workers’ compensation benefits in New Jersey. The U. S. Supreme Court ruled on June 25, 2014 that police need a warrant to search information on an arrestee’s mobile phone, acknowledging the fact that for many of us our cell phones hold a “digital record of nearly every aspect of their life.” So you might wonder how the digital age and social media have affected injured workers in New Jersey.
Workplace violence can happen anywhere and at anytime. It can involve employees, clients, customers or visitors. According to the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA), nearly 2 million America workers report being victims of workplace violence each year, and its assumed that more cases go unreported. OSHA warns that workplace violence can strike anytime and no one is immune. Research has identified certain risk factors that may increase the likelihood of violence for certain workers within certain occupations; such factors include businesses that run cash operations with the public (e.g. convenience stores, restaurants, bars, stores, etc.), and others include situations where workers work with unstable, volatile people. Working alone or in isolated areas may also contribute to the possibility of violence.
New Jersey Workers’ Compensation recognizes claims for specific accidents as well as occupational injury and disease claims. Psychiatric claims can fall into either category, but have traditionally been very difficult cases to prove. Under Goyden v. State of New Jersey, 256 N.J. Suer.438 (App.Div. 1991), five objective elements must be met for a worker’s condition to be compensable. The working conditions must be objectively stressful, the believable evidence must support a finding that the worker reacted to the m as stressful, the objectively stressful working conditions must be peculiar to the particular work place, there must be objective evidence supporting a medical opinion of the resulting psychiatric disability in addition to the bare statement of the patient and the workplace exposure must have been a material cause of the disability.
As a trial lawyer, I have always argued my case from one side or the other. There is always a winner and a loser in litigation. While winning is rewarding, the process is adversarial and can be draining. Mediation is an alternative to litigation and is a means of resolving disputes between parties with the assistance of a neutral third party. A mediator makes no findings of fact and does not give his or her opinion as to how to resolve the issues. The mediator’s role is simply to facilitate a settlement between the parties by engaging them in conversation and helping them to understand the others position and needs. A successful mediation is one in which the parties agree on the best way to resolve their dispute and everyone walks away content. After 20 years of litigating cases, I was intrigued by the prospect of a less adversarial forum.
What happens to an innocent injured employee when an employer commits fraud in the application process for a workers’ compensation policy? In American Millennium v. Berganza, 386 N.J. Super 484 (App. Div. 2006) the Appellate court examined the case where a drywall subcontractor, Berganza, obtained workers’ compensation coverage through an insurance broker that was placed with American Millennium Insurance Company on January 18, 2003 with an effective date of January 19th.
Cases where employees are injured between parking their cars and entering their employer’s place of business are numerous. “Going and Coming” cases have been decided over the years with courts making decisions that sometimes leave attorneys scratching their heads over the decisions in this area of workers’ compensation law. The newest case decided by the Appellate Division, Cheryl Hersh v. County of Morris also muddies the waters.
On May 2, 2014 I attended the New Jersey Association for Justice Workers’ Compensation seminar in Atlantic City. The seminar speakers presented various topics, including one very interesting presentation by Dr. Mark Testauiti of Coastal Spine in Mt. Laurel, New Jersey. Dr. Testauiti is a board-certified neurosurgeon who specializes exclusively in spinal care. Dr. Testauiti spoke about “Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery.” According to the doctor’s presentation and Costal Spine’s web site, this procedure means a smaller incision and a smaller scar during spinal surgery, and may lead to less blood loss and a shorter hospital stay. These factors may make spinal surgery more palatable to injured workers when one considers the fact that traditional open surgery results in larger cuts in surrounding muscle tissue to get to the damaged part of the spine.
One of the main reasons you work is to pay your monthly bills and hopefully one day retire with some financial security. An injury can derail these plans quickly and leave you with the type of uncertainty you worked so hard to avoid. If you can never go back to work again as a result of a work injury, it’s important to what benefits are available.
New Jersey workers’ compensation is a three prong system that entitles injured workers to 1. payment of their reasonable, necessary and related medical bills, 2. temporary disability benefits as a wage replacement while they are out of work recovering from the injury, and 3. total disability or a monetary award for ways in which the injury has a permanent impact on the workers’ life.