For you to collect workers’ compensation, your injury must be work-related. According to National Paralegal College, there are two criteria you must demonstrate for a work-related injury. One of these is that your injury must arise from your employment. In other words, an employment hazard must be the source and the cause of your injury.
You might think that it would be a simple matter to establish that your injury arose from your employment. It may be if your injury resulted from acute workplace trauma. However, there are circumstances in which it can be more difficult to establish that the injury arose from employment.
Repetitive stress injuries
Repetitive stress injuries do not result from a single traumatic event. Rather, they result from a series of microtrauma that has a cumulative effect over time. In the absence of a single acute injury, it can be easier for your employer or the insurance company to argue that the injury did not arise from your employment but has some other cause. Your treating physician may have to provide specific evidence showing that the injury did arise from your work.
Aggravation of a pre-existing condition
You may have an injury or illness that occurred or developed prior to your employment. The pre-existing condition may or may not have been work-related in the first place. However, if your job activities or an accident at work made it worse, then the new or worsened symptoms arose from your employment.
It can be a tricky business to determine the extent to which your current job contributed to your symptoms. Your employer may try to argue that your employment was not a factor at all.
When accidents occur on the job, victims suffer in various ways. Some lose the ability to walk for a period of time and others are immobilized indefinitely. Back injuries, brain trauma, broken bones and lacerations occur far too often, but there are other injuries that create hardships for victims even though they do not receive as much attention. For example, hand injuries are debilitating for workers in many fields.
From medical bills to pain and the inability to work, hand injuries disrupt life in a lot of ways. Outside of the workplace, these injuries create many challenges as well. It is pivotal for victims facing these hardships to explore their options.
Construction and office jobs
Hand injuries are problematic for workers in a wide range of fields. Construction workers who injure their hands are often unable to keep working, especially if they lose the ability to use machinery or tools. However, hand injuries also sideline office workers. For example, many employees cannot type or write anymore because of hand injuries. In fact, repetitive strain injuries occur very often and some office workers injure their hands after typing for many years.
Moving on after sustaining a hand injury (or any other work-related injury) is crucial. Our law firm breaks down various issues related to obtaining workers’ compensation benefits, which play a key role in an injured worker’s ability to recover. From assistance with training for work in a different field to help with medical bills and lost wages, these benefits are essential for eligible workers who cannot perform their job duties after an injury.
In New Jersey, workers’ compensation is an insurance program that provides certain benefits if you sustain job-related illnesses or injuries. The insurance is “no-fault” insurance, which means that it does not matter who is responsible for the accident, you will still receive benefits.
Additionally, it provides death benefits to children or dependents of workers who die as a result of their job.
According to the Department of Labor and Workforce Development, workers’ compensation provides the following benefits.
- Temporary total benefits
- Medical benefits
- Permanent total benefits
- Permanent partial benefits
In exchange for receiving these benefits through the workers’ compensation program, you cannot file a lawsuit against your employer for other damages, such as pain and suffering. There are exceptions, however, if it was an intentional act that hurt you in the first place.
What to do if you sustain an injury
If you sustain an injury, you should report it to your employer right away. You may give the notice of your injury to anyone in charge at your workplace. The notice does not have to be in writing, although your employer may want you to fill out an accident report if you are able. If you require medical treatment, you should make a request as soon as possible. According to the New Jersey workers’ compensation laws, your employer and their insurance carrier can choose which physician will treat you for your injuries. It is also important to note that in NJ it is against the law for your employer to retaliate against you for filing a workers’ compensation claim.
Employers are responsible for protecting their workers; it is as simple as that. However, some employers in New Jersey seem to take this as more of a suggestion than a legal expectation. The Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) recently fined a company after one of its workers was seriously injured — one who likely needed help from workers’ compensation.
The worksite accident happened back in Aug. 2019. The victim — a crane operator for an aluminum manufacturer — was seriously hurt by a steel plate that fell from a crane. He was taken to the hospital and then admitted for further treatment. His employer was supposed to report his injury and hospitalization to OSHA within a period of 24 hours, but it missed that timeframe. It is not clear when the company actually reported the accident.
OSHA issued four citations against the company, one of which was for failing to report the employee’s hospitalization on time. The aluminum manufacturer was also cited for not conducting annual inspections of its cranes and for not securing and balancing the crane’s load. The company is expected to pay nearly $170,000 in penalties and was placed in the Severe Violator Enforcement Program.
While it is good that OSHA exists to identify violations that cause workplace accidents, it often seems as if this only happens after victims are already hurt. This means that workers’ compensation benefits have to play a supporting role in these victims’ recoveries. Otherwise, some people in New Jersey might feel forced to return to work before they are ready, risking further injury and compromising financial security.
Although most people in New Jersey might have spent New Year’s Eve celebrating the changing of the calendar, there was at least one person who was not able to participate. That person is a construction worker who was injured at work on that day. Even though the accident occurred in 2019, he can still pursue workers’ compensation for any related injuries. (more…)
Employers are required to create safe working environments for their employees, and must also provide necessary safety equipment and warn workers of possible dangers. This includes alerting workers to the presence of asbestos in the workplace. All too frequently, people in New Jersey — especially teachers — are unknowingly exposed to asbestos just by showing up to work. Workers’ compensation could help teachers who have developed mesothelioma because of asbestos in their classrooms. (more…)
Getting hurt at work might make for entertaining TV, but it is far less funny in real life. Work injuries can range from mild to severe, but no matter the nature of a victim’s injury, the resulting damages are usually serious. When workers have to take time off work or pay medical bills for an on-the-job injury, workers’ compensation is there to help. (more…)
It is not uncommon to hear people in Toms River talk about being stressed at work. Yet what if the stress you experience on the job has led to depression? Recent years have seen the recognition of depression as a debilitating condition, often leaving you unable to perform the tasks that even simple daily living demands. If it can be that debilitating in your everyday life, imagine how much more impactful depression can be to your job. Taking time to seek treatment is certainly an option, but as many have asked us here at Rosenberg Kirby Cahill Stankowitz & Richardson, should such treatment be covered by workers’ compensation? (more…)
Many people in New Jersey have jobs in which they are exposed to a variety of substances that may be harmful to their health. Employers are supposed to follow standards designed to avoid or minimize unhealthy exposure to keep workers safe yet this may not always happen. One condition that is of concern is work-related asthma. You may develop this illness due to exposure at work. Even if you had asthma before beginning a job, you might have work-related asthma if your symptoms worsen while at work.
According to the New Jersey Work-Related Asthma Surveillance, more than 650 people have contracted work-related asthma in the state since 1993. More than half of those people never had asthma previously. In addition, more than half of the people with work-related asthma were in their 40s or younger. The New Jersey Adult Asthma Call-Back Survey estimated the real number of work-related cases to be above 54,000. This disparity is concerning indeed.
Signs of work-related asthma that you should watch for include difficulty breathing, wheezing and coughing, challenges breathing, and a tight feeling in the chest. These symptoms may be less apparent when you are not at work and not exposed to the substance or environment that caused or exacerbated your condition.
If you would like to learn more about work-related asthma or other types of medical conditions that a person might develop due to their job environments, please feel free to visit the help for workers with workplace illnesses page of our New Jersey workers’ compensation website.
Listen up, those of you who work in moderately loud work environments across New Jersey: You face an especially high risk of work-related hearing loss, and there are things you and your employer should be doing to protect your hearing. At Rosenberg, Kirby, Cahill, Stankowitz & Richardson, we recognize that hearing loss has become a widely prevalent problem for America’s workforce, and we have helped many people whose hearing suffered as a result of their work environments pursue appropriate recourse.
According to USA Today, work-related hearing loss has become so common across the United States that it is now the most frequent work-related injury experienced by American employees. In fact, about 22 million American workers undergo exposure to dangerous noise levels every year, and this costs the nation about $242 million annually in hearing loss-related workers’ compensation costs.
While common sense may tell you that your risk of suffering work-related hearing loss increases alongside the decibel level in your work environment, research shows that this is not actually the case. Instead of those who work in the loudest environment facing the highest risk of work-related hearing loss, it is actually those who work in settings that are “moderately loud” who face the most substantial hearing loss risk. Why?
Typically, those who work in extremely loud work settings know the risks associated with prolonged exposure to loud noise, and because of this knowledge, they are more consistent when it comes to wearing ear protection while at work. In moderately loud work environments, though, the risks are less obvious and not as well-documented, and this can lead workers in these environments to “take their chances” when it comes to protecting their hearing. You can find out more about workers’ compensation issues on our webpage.