On May 14, 2013 the Workers’ Compensation Committee of the Camden County Bar Association presented a seminar titled Workers’ Compensation Update, Case Law and the Medicare Smart Act. The Honorable Richard E. Hickey III, (retired) Alan Schwalbe, Esq. and Carin O’Donnell spoke at the seminar.
Judge Hickey outlined some of the most recent and pertinent cases of the past few years. These included the case of Dubrel v. Maple Crest Auto Group, an Appellate Division case from January 30, 2012. In the Dubrel case the Judge of Workers’ Compensation found that the injured worker’s testimony was “purposefully and knowingly false” and “made for the purpose of obtaining benefits.” The injured worker sustained injuries to his low back while working as an auto mechanic. His case was accepted by the workers’ compensation carrier, and he was provided with medical treatment and temporary disability benefits. During the trial of his case to determine the extent of his permanent disability, the Judge found that the worker testified falsely about the extent of his ability to participate in his hobby of horse training after he was injured at work. He testified that he did NOT in fact participate in the activities he used to do before he was injured, specifically his activities as a horse trainer and driver. The adjuster assigned to his case by the workers’ compensation carrier found evidence on a racing web site that this worker had worked as a horse trainer and/or horse driver on many occasions during the period of time that he testified that he was unable to do this type of activity. Based on the evidence submitted by the workers’ compensation carrier, the Judge dismissed the case, awarded no benefits, and referred the case to the State of New Jersey fraud unit.
Mr. Schwalbe addressed the Medicare Smart Act, an Act that is meant to streamline the Medicare Conditional Payment process effective April 10, 2013. The Act leaves many unanswered questions, and the attorneys present at the Seminar agreed that it might take to a while to see if the Medicare Smart Act will actually do what they are intended to do — simplify the Medicare lien situation. Only time will tell.