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Benson v. Coca Cola Co. is a workers’ compensation case decided in 1972 that is still good law today. This case stands for the proposition that if there is no demand upon the Employer to provide treatment, there is no liability for payment of same, unless the request by injured worker would have been futile.

In this case the injured worker, Mr. Benson, fell off of a tank tuck and injured his head, back, and neck. He went to the company clinic with significant complaints. The company doctor examines, took x-rays (negative), and prescribed heat, muscle relaxers, and pain meds.

The injured worker refused the treatment at the company clinic and failed to follow up the next day at the company clinic as prescribed.


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Which State has jurisdiction (legal authority) to address a work related injury is a question that comes up often in our practice. This is particularly common because we live in an area of the country where workers frequently live in one state and work in another.

In a recent case Marconi v. United Airlines, the Appellate Division court in New Jersey addressed an issue where the injured worker, Mr. Marconi, lived in New Jersey and was injured while working for United Airlines in Philadelphia. He filed two workers’ compensation cases in New Jersey, and the employer disputed that New Jersey had jurisdiction over the claims. The facts showed that Mr. Marconi was hired by United Airlines in San Francisco, lived continuously in New Jersey throughout his employment, and was transferred to work in Philadelphia. During the time Mr. Marconi worked in Philadelphia, his supervisor worked out of the Newark Airport. Mr. Marconi would call United staff at the Newark Airport hub for technical advice, but he never worked in Newark himself. He had received training all over the world, including the Newark Airport hub.


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You might ask yourself the above question if you are considering signing up to drive for the transportation service Uber. Uber promises that anyone with a valid driver’s license, personal car insurance, a clean record, and a four-door car can meet the New Jersey requirements to drive for Uber.

The Uber driver makes his or her own hours and is free to pick up or drop off a rider anywhere they chose and the driver can work as much or as little as they choose. Uber requires its drivers to carry the appropriate automobile insurance to cover the driver’s liability to other parties, damage to the vehicle and injury to the driver.


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The New Jersey Workers’ Compensation Fraud Statute, N.J.S.A. 34:15-57.4, is alive and well in the Division of Workers’ Compensation as it applies to injured workers. Attorneys for workers’ compensation carriers are making fraud arguments often, and in some cases being successful in terminating workers’ benefits. Yet injured workers do not routinely file fraud claims against employers and/or their insurance carriers, who routinely and improperly deny benefits to injured workers.  However in this update to an article I wrote previously, I can now happily report that the New Jersey Workers’ Compensation Statute applies to both employees and employers.

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Generally, petitions filed by injured workers for occupational disease claims are barred if they are not filed within two years of the date the injured worker discovered the nature of the disability and it relationship to employment. This is addressed in the workers’ compensation law under N.J.S.A. 34:15-34.

Unlike an accident, which has a specific date, the precise onset of an occupational disease may be hard to determine.
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Generally speaking, a person who is assaulted at work to receive workers’ compensation benefits must show that the assault is related to the employment relationship and not from a purely personal relationship. If the assault arises out of a clearly personal dispute, the injured employee may be barred from obtaining workers’ compensation benefits. The injured party may, however, be able to pursue a common law negligence claim against the co-worker who perpetuated the assault.

In a recent case, Lesley Joseph v. Monmouth County, Mr. Joseph appealed a workers’ compensation Judge’s decision to dismiss his claim after he was assaulted by another employee at work. The Judge found that the assault lacked any connection to the workers’ employment, as it arose out of the worker’s involvement with the other employee’s pyramid investment scheme. The injured worker appealed arguing that the fact that the assault happened in the workplace was enough to make it arise “out of and in the course of” employment.


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For any doctors who treat workers’ compensation patients, there are several issues they should be aware of in order to effectively provide treatment to these injured workers in New Jersey. If you are injured at work and getting medical treatment, the issues below are crucial for you to understand and discuss with your doctor if necessary:
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If you were doing something, however slight, to cause an injury at work be sure to let your employer know all of the facts when you report the injury. As the case below verifies, if you are just walking at work and feel a “pop” in your back, you will probably be denied workers’ compensation benefits. Just being present at work does not automatically make an injury work related. The injury must arise out of the employment duties, and you must be careful to report the duties that you feel caused your injury.

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On June 2, 2016 I attended an extremely interesting presentation given by the law firm of Costello & Mails about the employer’s duty to provide a safe work place for employees. There are many State and Federal laws that address this issue, as will be explained below. As a workers’ compensation attorney I found the information invaluable since the workers’ compensation statute is a no-fault statute that does not require an employer to maintain any level of safety for workers. The trade-off makes an employee eligible for certain limited benefits regardless of whether the employee or the employer is at fault. An employer at fault for an employee’s injury does not mean that the employee will get any more or any less benefits than an employee who was at fault for his or her own injury at work. The benefits discussed at this recent presentation were over and above any compensation an employee might be entitled to under the workers’ compensation law.

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Sometimes, injured workers have questions regarding authorized or unauthorized medical care. N.J.S.A. 34:15-15 of the New Jersey Workers’ Compensation Act provides that, “The employer shall furnish to the injured worker such medical, surgical, and other treatment, and hospital service as shall be necessary to cure and relieve the worker of the effects of the injury.” The case of Benson vs. Coca Cola Co. addresses the issue of unauthorized medical care.

In the Benson case, the employee was examined by the workers’ compensation carrier’s physician. The employee subsequently sought out medical treatment from another physician, without the workers’ compensation carrier’s authorization, and then sought reimbursement from the carrier for the medical expenses. The workers’ compensation court found against the employee, holding that N.J. Stat. Ann. § 34:15-15 did not give discretion to the injured employee to seek independent medical assistance, thus the outside medical treatment and hospitalization was unauthorized.


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