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New Jersey workers’ compensation benefits include payment of medical bills, wage replacement or temporary disability, and a monetary award if the injury has a permanent impact on the workers daily or working life. When the worker has only one job, she is not entitled to collect both workers’ compensation and state disability benefits.  A double

Cardiovascular or cerebral vascular accidents can be compensable under the New Jersey Workers’ Compensation statute.  The courts have held that the mere fact that a heart attack, stroke or other cardiovascular accident occurs at work does not make it work related.  A worker or his dependents must show that the injury or death was produced

The Appellate Division recently addressed this issue in the matter of Wilson v. Board of Review (Docket No. A-4874-12T4, November 6, 2014).  In this case, Mr. Wilson suffered significant spine injuries when he fell from a ladder.  He underwent two spine surgeries and was out of work receiving workers’ compensation benefits from January 10, 2011

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.
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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.
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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.
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Did you see NJ.com’s article regarding the corrections officer who was denied his accidental disability pension because a pension doctor said he could work? Read the full story here.

This is an all too real a situation that many officers find themselves. It is important to note that this type of pension is only awarded to officers injured in the line of duty. That means that the medical treatment they receive is managed under the workers’ compensation system. The State has all the power. That’s right, the officer has no right to choose a doctor under this system. So, as in this case, the State sent him to doctors that said he is not capable of performing his job duties and placed permanent restrictions on his physical activities. The DOC did not offer him a position within those restrictions. It would seem that he meets all the criteria to receive his benefits. But that’s not where this story ends. To add insult to injury, the Pension Board (also a State entity) then hires its’ own doctor to evaluate the officer to render his opinion with regard to his ability to work. With this background, the article raises many questions. Why weren’t the doctors chosen by the workers’ compensation system adequate? Are they not of sufficient caliber for their opinions to be vailid? Why is there even a need for the pension board to hire a separate doctor? If the WC doctors are not good enough to offer their opinion, then why are they good enough to treat injured workers? Isn’t the ultimate goal to give them the best care possible so they can return to work sooner rather than later and without restrictions? I wish I had the answers, but I don’t. I too find myself fighting for accidental disability pensions for officers injured in the line of duty and not fit for work after all medical treatment options have been exhausted.
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Many injuries occur while people are either coming to work or going home from work. Where the accident occurs will determine whether or not the injuries arising out of that accident are compensable. Generally speaking, motor vehicle accidents while driving to work in the morning or from work in the evening are not compensable. However, if your job duties require you to drive as part of your work, an accident occurring in the direct performance of your job duties is considered work related. Accidents occurring once you have arrived in the parking lot, but have not yet arrived at your work space are much more controversial.
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The Appellate Division recently ruled that in order to prove fraud, thus disqualifying an injured worker from obtaining workers’ compensation benefits, an insurance carrier must prove three things: that that the injured worker acted purposefully or knowingly in giving or withholding information with the intent that he or she receive benefits, that the worker knew that the statement or omission was material to obtaining the benefit and that the statement or omission was made for the purpose of falsely obtaining benefits to which the worker was not entitled, Natalie Bellino v. Verizon Wireless, Docket No. A-1132-12T4 (Argued 9/10/13, Decided 3/19/14).
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