Not All Injuries are Covered by Workers’ Compensation in NJ

New Jersey´s workers’ compensation is a “no-fault” insurance scheme that pays for medical care, salary replacement, and long-term disability benefits to employees who are injured or sick on the job.

Not All Injuries are Covered by Workers’ Compensation in NJ Workers’ compensation also pays death benefits to the dependents of workers who died as a result of their work. Regardless of who was to blame, a wounded employee will be compensated. Except in circumstances of deliberate conduct, the worker does not have the right to sue the employer for pain and suffering or other damages in return for these promised benefits.

There is a common misconception that any injury sustained at work must be compensated by workers’ compensation. That, however, is not the case. There are various types of work-related injuries that are just not compensable. Workers’ compensation never includes injuries that are outside of work. An injury must not only occur at work, but it must also not occur outside of work. There are several important principles in every state that assist clarify and expand on the meaning of “not arising out of employment” for catastrophic injuries.

Personal Risk Claims and Idiopathic Claims

These two doctrines have a lot in common. When an employee has a prior medical condition that is the real cause of the damage, the term “idiopathic” is used. An employee with severe osteoarthritis, for example, is going down the hall at work when his knee locks, but he does not collapse. The doctor checks the patient and determines that the act of walking has caused more knee injury due to severe osteoarthritis. Because the injury was totally personal to the employee and not caused by employment, this is a classic idiopathic claim.

Consider an employee who has had previous shoulder dislocation troubles who puts on her coat to go home after work and has a fresh shoulder dislocation. Despite the fact that it occurred at work, it was not caused by it. The petitioner was simply doing what we all do when we leave work on a cold day: putting on our jackets. Shoulder dislocations are considered idiopathic, meaning they are not caused by work-related activities.

Abandonment of Employment

There are two key applications for this theory. The first is an activity that is either unrelated to work or so far removed from it that a reasonable person would never engage in it. For example, a lawyer standing outside his office phones a colleague sitting at his desk on his mobile phone, requesting him to come outside and assist him in carrying work files inside the office. Instead of walking down the stairs or taking the elevator, the colleague opens his window and leaps 20 feet to the ground, fracturing his leg. Jumping from a window is such a dangerous action that no sane person would undertake it. Although the injury occurred at work, it would not be considered a job-related incident. An employer should not be required to insure against acts that are intrinsically risky and that no rational person would engage in.

Intentional Self-Injury

This is a type of self-injury when employees who harm themselves on purpose are nearly invariably refused compensation. If an enraged employee punches a wall at work and breaks her hand, the damage would not be compensable since striking a wall is extremely likely to result in self-harm. Similarly, if Employee A assaults Employee B and is hurt as a result, courts will nearly invariably rule that the injury was self-inflicted and not compensable. Employee B’s injuries would, of course, be covered as an assault victim.

Sports and Recreational Activities

Let’s say an employee chooses to bring out some rope during his morning break, go away from his desk, and jump rope for a few minutes, only to get her foot twisted up in the rope, resulting in an injury. Is this anything that would be covered by workers’ compensation? Isn’t it true that that happened at work? Recreational activities that only benefit the employee’s health are not covered under New Jersey law, thus this would not be compensable. To be covered, a recreational activity must provide a benefit to the employer that is higher than health and morale, and it must be a regular occurrence at work. Few leisure activities can claim to provide a bigger value to the employer than improved health and morale. The same may be said for social activities.

Personal Risk Claims and Idiopathic Claims NJ However, if two employees are joking around at work and one throws a pencil at the other as a joke, but the pencil hits the other employee in the eye, the court would likely see this conduct as horseplay – – not recreational. Horseplay is not a defense in New Jersey, unlike in many other states. Horseplay is always compensable for the victim and occasionally for the initiator. There is a distinction to be made between horseplay and assaults/altercations, and the results may vary depending on whether that distinction is crossed.

Workers’ compensation rules are intended to establish a fair process for getting benefits after being injured or sick at work. These statutes are frequently difficult to comprehend. If you miss a deadline or fail to complete the proper papers, you may be denied the benefits you are entitled to.

Retain our Trenton NJ  Workers Compensation Attorney Today

At The Law Office of Kamensky, Cohen & Riechelson, we represent clients with workers’ compensation and personal injury claims in Princeton, Trenton, and the greater Mercer County area. So whether you have yet to decide your next steps fully or are ready to move forward immediately, our knowledgeable team of attorneys is only a phone call away.

You can call us at 609.528.2596 or contact us through our online contact form for a free and confidential consultation to discuss your individual needs and concerns.

Workers’ Compensation Responsibilities as an Employer in NJ

How do the laws affect you as an employer, and what are your responsibilities? Worker´s Compensation Attorneys serving Trenton, Princeton, Lawrence, Hamilton, and across Mercer County

Workers’ Compensation Responsibilities as an EmployerAccording to the New Jersey Department of Labor and Resource Development, all employees must provide workers’ compensation insurance unless they are covered by a federal program or meet the requirements for approval for self-insurance. This necessity to protect one’s employees’ safety and security is at the heart of all federally- and state-mandated workers’ compensation laws.

What is Workers’ Compensation?

Worker’s Compensation Insurance in New Jersey is the way employers are held responsible and resourced in meeting their employees’ safety and security needs. In other words, it’s the insurance system through which employers cover the expenses of an employee’s injury sustained while on the job. This system provides the employee with the security of knowing that if they are injured at work, resulting in medical expenses, time lost from pay for recovery, or other costs, including short- or long-term disability pay, the employee will be able to get those costs covered by their employer. As a result of providing this guarantee of support to their employees, an employer is protected from lawsuits in the case of injury on the job. One reason for this protection from lawsuits is that the workers’ compensation program is a no-fault system, meaning that the employer is not held liable for injury to employees sustained on the job, as long as they provide this protection of financial coverage for medical and other expenses.

As an Employer, What Responsibilities for Offering Workers’ Compensation Insurance Do I Have?

You, as an employer, are responsible for taking all of the precautions necessary to ensure the safety and security of your employees. This means keeping the grounds maintained, providing safety training in machinery use, and other preventive measures.

All corporations and limited liability corporations (LLCs) must have workers’ compensation insurance or be approved for self-insurance. Workers’ Compensation benefits must include corporate officers in corporations, and LLCs must cover all employees who are not partners or members of the LLC.

If a sole proprietorship employees anyone besides the principal owner, it must also have workers’ compensation insurance or proof of self-insurance.

Types of Workers’ Compensation Benefits

Five types of benefits providing workers’ compensation insurance for your employees provides them. They are as follows:

  • Medical benefits: These benefits cover medical expenses, prescriptions, hospital stays, and another injury- or illness-related costs. An employer, or their insurance provider, has the option of determining which medical providers their employees are allowed to use in order to receive these workers’ compensation benefits, as long as those options cover the full range of injuries or illnesses sustained while the employee was on the job.
  • Temporary total benefits: Temporary total benefits come into play if an employee is injured on the job and must miss work for more than seven days. These benefits cover 70 percent of their lost wages and are retroactive to the employee’s first missed day. Temporary total benefits continue until the employee begins work again or sees substantial improvement in their health. There is a 400-week maximum for an employer’s obligation to pay temporary total benefits.
  • Permanent partial benefits: If after the period of temporary total benefits is paid by the employer, the employee still has some functional loss, the employer is required then to pay permanent partial benefits weekly.
  • Types of Workers’ Compensation BenefitsPermanent total benefits: If the employee’s injury sustained on the job results in their inability to have steady employment in their field, they are eligible for permanent total benefits. The initial period for these benefits is 450 weeks, at which point the employee must prove that they are still unable to work in order to receive continued benefits. These benefits are also 70 percent of their average weekly wage.
  • Death benefits: If a work-related injury or illness results in an employee’s death, their family is entitled to death benefits through their workers’ compensation insurance. These benefits include up to $3,500 in funeral costs and 70 percent of the employee’s weekly wages paid to the family or beneficiary, for the full extent of the statutorily-mandated maximum time period.

Trenton Worker’s CompensationLawyers

The Attorneys at Kamensky Cohen & Riechelson have years of experience handling injury and worker’s compensation claims and working with insurance companies to ensure the best possible outcome for clients in towns such as Trenton, Princeton, Lawrence, Hamilton, and across Mercer County, New Jersey.

Call today or contact us online for a free and confidential consultation to review your case with one of our lawyers today.

Work Event Injuries and Workers’ Compensation in Trenton, Hamilton and New Brunswick NJ

Am I protected by Law if injured on a Company Event outside normal Place of Employment in NJ?

Work Event Injuries and Workers' Compensation in Trenton, Hamilton and New Brunswick NJWorkers’ compensation is designed to reimburse employees injured during “the course of employment”, or for injuries “arising out of employment”. The main benefit to workers’ compensation is that injured employees can recover compensation for their medical expenses and lost income without needing to prove fault or negligence by any other party.

However, there is a bit of a legal grey area when it comes to injuries to employees during company events outside of the normal place of employment, or outside their normal working hours. Things like company parties, company events, or company-sponsored sports teams can all easily result in an injury, but can you recover workers’ compensation for those kinds of injuries? Let’s take a look.

New Brunswick Workers Compensation Lawyers Examine “Course of Employment”

Part of the definition of an injury which is eligible for workers’ compensation includes “injuries which occur during the course of employment”. The question then becomes, are work events, work parties, or company sponsored sporting event part of the course of employment?

When answering this key question, most courts will consider the following factors:

  • The extent to which your company expected or required you to attend the event
  • The extent to which the event was sponsored by your company
  • The extent to which your company benefits from holding the event
  • Whether or not the event took place on company property
  • Whether or not the event took place during regular working hours
  • The frequency and regularity that the event in question is held

While these are all questions that any workers’ compensation court will consider, the answer to these questions and how they impact the court’s decision often depends a great deal upon the arguments and presentations your New Brunswick workers’ compensation attorney can make. With that being said, there are also some important facts which, if true, could greatly strengthen your workers’ compensation claim.

Trenton Workers Compensation Attorneys Discuss Company Event Injury Claims

If your company and their insurance policy provider are denying your workers’ compensation claim for injuries sustained at some kind of company event, there are certain scenarios which will greatly help you and your Trenton workers’ compensation attorney to secure you the compensation that you need and deserve for your injuries.

These are a few potential scenarios which would provide you with a much more solid workers’ compensation claim when it comes to injuries sustained at a work event or a work party:

  • The event included any team-building exercises
  • The event put you and other employees in a situation with potential clients or potential recruits
  • Your company provided transportation for attendees to the event
  • Your company actively promoted the event to its employees
  • The event occurred during regular working hours
  • The event is considered part of your company’s corporate culture or is a deeply ingrained company institution

Contact Our Mercer County Workers’ Compensation Attorneys Today

Of course, anytime an insurance company is denying your workers’ compensation claim, one of the most important things you can do is to retain the counsel of an experienced Mercer County workers’ compensation attorney. Your attorney will be able to provide you with insight into your claim, its strengths and weaknesses, and ultimately help you to recover the compensation that you need and deserve for any kind of work-related injury, including injuries sustained at a work party or work event.

At The Law Office of Kamensky, Cohen & Riechelson, our attorneys have extensive experience helping clients to recover compensation in personal injury claims and workers’ compensation claims alike in towns across Mercer County, including Trenton, Hamilton, Lawrence, Princeton, and New Brunswick.

Practicing law since 1972, our firm has earned a well-deserved reputation for effective and tenacious service, and insurance companies across the state understand this and tend to be much more willing to offer our clients fair settlements as a result.

To speak with our attorney team today in a free and confidential consultation regarding your workers’ compensation claim, and how exactly we can help you to recover compensation for your medical expenses and lost income, please contact us online, or through our Trenton, NJ office at (609) 528-2596.

Can I be Fired For Filing a Workers’ Compensation Claim?

Victims of workplace accidents may be reluctant to file a workers’ compensation claim for fear of discriminatory treatment or even termination. While the short answer is no, you cannot be fired for filing any type of claim against your employer, there are a litany of complicating factors which are worth considering.

Today, our employee rights attorneys will be discussing discrimination in the workplace, what happens when you are hurt and cannot return to work, and the laws which protect both employees and employers.

If you have been injured on the job and are considering filing a workers’ compensation claim, call our office today for a free and confidential consultation with a member of our qualified legal staff.

Employee Discrimination after Filing Workers’ Comp Claim in Mercery County, NJ

Employees who have filed a workers’ compensation claim or any other claim against their employer may not be discriminated against as per New Jersey state law. This is considered a form of discrimination known as “retaliation discrimination”. This is in many ways similar to federal laws which protect employees from discrimination if they have filed harassment or other discrimination law suits against their employers.

However, just because you have filed or are planning on filing a workers’ compensation claim does not necessarily mean you are immune from being terminated. This becomes a grey area where employers will never admit to firing an employee because of filing for workers’ compensation even when that might in fact be the reason.

Consider this example: a young woman is hired by a construction company. After six months of employment, she suffers a construction related work injury. Her injury requires a few weeks off and some major medical expenses. She successfully files a workers’ compensation claim. She is fired before she is physically able to return to work because her employer claims her work was subpar. This is extremely suspicious, and situations like this do arise. In this case, the employee may have a strong wrongful termination claim against her employer.

Princeton Workers’ Rights Attorneys Discuss Keeping Your Job

Generally speaking, employers are not legally required to keep your job open if you are injured and unable to work indefinitely. However, the Federal and Medical Leave Act allows eligible employees to take as many as 12 weeks of medical leave per year without suffering negative consequences including termination. Similar to what was discussed above, if an employer fires, demotes, or otherwise punishes an employee for exercising their rights for time off, that is considered discrimination and grounds for a civil law suit.

Many individuals who are injured on the job find themselves with disabilities. For disabled workers returning to work, as per the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, it is unlawful for job applicants or employees to be treated differently for requesting reasonable accommodation for a disability. In other words, if you are able to perform your job but require accommodations for a disability, your employer may not terminate or otherwise punish you for this request. It is worth noting that “reasonable requests” are based on the accommodation needed, the size of the company, the resources of the company, and more.

Contact our Trenton Workers’ Compensation Attorneys Today

At The Law Offices of Kamensky, Cohen & Riechelson, our workers’ compensation attorneys have extensive experience dealing with the legal nuances of workplace discrimination when it comes to workers’ compensation claims. Our firm represents clients who have been injured on the job, and will seek full and fair compensation through workers’ compensation and/or personal injury claims as we have done for decades in local New Jersey towns including Trenton, Lawrence, Princeton, New Brunswick, Hamilton, Pennington, and the greater Mercer County region.

Contact us online or by calling our Trenton offices at (609) 528-2596 today for a free and confidential consultation with one of our workers’ compensation and personal injury attorneys regarding your work-related accidents and your available options moving forward.

Am I Eligible For Workers’ Compensation?

For those injured on the job, workers’ compensation is a form of insurance that may be used to cover expenses including medical bills, health insurance, and lost wages. As per New Jersey statutes, all employers in our state which are not under the umbrella of Federal programs, must either carry workers’ compensation coverage or be self-insured. This includes employers who operate in other states so long as the employee is contracted or performs his or her work in New Jersey. Today, our workers’ compensation lawyers will identify the eligibility requirements for injured workers and what complications may come into play.

If you have suffered a work related injury and believe you might be eligible for compensation via a workers’ compensation claim, call our office today for a free and consultation with a member of our experienced legal team.

Requirements for Successful Workers’ Compensation Claims in Mercer County, NJ

It is important to understand that unlike personal injury claims, workers’ compensation claims do not require that claimants prove fault or liability of another party for their injurious accident. This carries a tradeoff, as employees injured on the job have fewer requirements to be eligible for compensation, but also surrender their right to seek damages for pain and suffering, and so on. There are three basic requirements which must be met in order for an employee to file for workers’ compensation in New Jersey:

  1. You must be an employee of an individual, corporation, LLC, sole proprietorship, or company at the time of your injury
  2. Your injury must be the result of your work or work-related activities
  3. Your employer must be covered by workers’ compensation insurance or be legally obligated to carry worker’s compensation insurance

If all of the above applies, you are in good legal standing and are likely a candidate for financial compensation through a workers’ compensation claim.

Princeton Workers’ Comp Attorneys Fight Back Against Employers and Insurance Companies

While the requirements for filing a workers’ compensation claim may seem straightforward, our Princeton attorneys understand that employers and their insurance providers will often strive to fight back against legitimate claims in order to save themselves from costly payouts. Here are a few common tactics these organizations can use to deny your claim and how our legal team defends your legal rights.

Your employer was not required to carry workers’ compensation insurance. In New Jersey, the law is in the favor of the claimant as nearly all employers in the state are legally required to carry workers’ compensation coverage.

You were not an “employee”. Independent contractors are not considered “employees”. However, in order to save themselves from legal and financial obligations, it is common practice for employers to incorrectly consider actual employees to be independent contractors. Whether or not this is done intentionally, our attorneys will strive to show that you were in fact a legal employee at the time of your accident.

Your injury was not work-related. Employers and/or insurance companies may argue that your accident was the result of non-work related activities. For cases which do not involve straightforward duties in your line of work, this can become a legally complex issue. For example, company events, traveling for work, and even lunch breaks may all be covered by workers’ compensation depending on the circumstances.

Contact our Trenton Workers’ Compensation Attorneys Today

The workers’ compensation attorneys of Kamensky, Cohen & Riechelson have extensive experience assisting clients who have been injured on the job recover the full and fair compensation to which they are entitled. We take pride in serving clients from our local New Jersey communities, as we have done since 1972 in towns like Trenton, Princeton, Lawrence, Hamilton, New Brunswick, and the greater Mercer County region. Our firm works on a contingency basis, meaning we don’t make a dime until we successfully win money for your workers’ compensation claim.

Contact us online or through our Trenton offices by calling (609) 528-2596 today for a free and confidential consultation regarding your on the work accident, your injuries, and your potential for financial compensation through a workers’ compensation claim.