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. Continue Reading Statute Of Limitations in a New Jersey Workers’ Compensation “Occupational Disease” Claim

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.

Continue Reading Is an Assault at Work Compensable Under the New Jersey Workers’ Compensation Statute?

According to the Insurance Journal, the five most common Workers’ Compensation claim injuries include:

  • Strains and sprains (30%)
  • Cuts or punctures (19%)
  • Contusions (12%)
  • Inflammation (5%)
  • Fractures (5%)”

The Department of Labor also lists strains and sprains as the top workplace injury. Many of these injuries take place while working in traditional blue collar jobs. For example:

  • Strains and sprains can occur from overexertion in material handling jobs.
  • Eye injuries most often happen while working in construction or manufacturing jobs.
  • Object impact and injuries from machinery or tools often arise in warehouses, manufacturing, and construction jobs.

Continue Reading Workers’ Compensation: 5 Most Common Injuries

When evaluating Workers’ Comp claims, the New Jersey courts closely evaluate the location, circumstances, and nature of work events that lead to an injury. There is a distinct difference in the approach to mandatory work activities vs. voluntary work activities.

Scenario 1: You are on the company softball team. During the last game, you are just about to run for home base when the batter’s ball strikes you in the head, knocking you out. You develop a subdural hematoma and have to have emergency surgery. Does Workers’ Comp cover you?

Continue Reading Workers’ Comp and Company Events—Are You Covered?

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: Continue Reading New Jersey Doctors Should Be Aware of Workers’ Compensation Issues

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.

Continue Reading Be Careful How You Report the Details of Your Work Related Injury

When an injury occurs on the job, you are usually covered under the workers’ compensation insurance policy paid for by your employer. You are also typically required to visit a physician selected by the insurance company to assess your condition and get treatment. But what if you don’t agree with the doctor’s assessment or treatment plan? Can you go somewhere else for a second opinion? In New Jersey, the answer is almost always “No.” You can request it, but are not “entitled” to get it. The insurance company has the right to decide whether or not a second opinion is warranted.

There are two common situations that prompt patients to seek a second opinion in workers’ comp claims:

  • When the doctor says you no longer need treatment and you don’t agree with him/her; and,
  • When the doctor recommends surgery or an invasive procedure and you want to be sure it is the best option.

Continue Reading Think You Are Entitled to a Second Opinion Under NJ Workers’ Comp? Think Again

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.

Continue Reading The Employer’s Duty to Provide a Safe Workplace for Employees

CRPS stands for Complex Regional Pain Syndrome and is sometimes referred to as Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy, or RSD. CRPS is a rare but serious form of chronic pain resulting from nerve damage that generally affects arms or legs after trauma to that part of the body. CRPS arises most frequently as a result of a traumatic workplace injury involving damage to a nerve root, or as a result of one or more surgeries to repair a fracture, burn, or some other injury.

One of the most common traits of CRPS is that pain appears to be greater than what would be expected for the injury or as a result of normal activities. Symptoms of CRPS include severe swelling, a “waxy” appearance, discoloration, unusual temperature changes, and/or unusual hair growth to the extremity. There is no decisive test to confirm CRPS for an injured worker. However, some tests do provide guidance. One is a bone scan, which may indicate a degree of bone loss associated with CRPS. Another test is to prescribe nerve blocks and then evaluate how the extremity responds.

Continue Reading Understanding the Injury known as CRPS or RSD

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.

Continue Reading Medical Treatment and Light Duty Issues in Workers’ Compensation Cases