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Protecting Yourself after a Work-Related Traffic Accident in New Jersey

traffic accident in new jerseyIt’s not unusual to be involved in a motor vehicle accident while on the job. If you’ve been hurt at work while driving or riding as a passenger in car or truck, your first thought might be to file a workers’ compensation claim. It’s important to understand, though, that the workers’ compensation system is designed to help you streamline the process for recovering compensation for the carelessness of your employer. It’s often referred to as your “exclusive remedy” for a work-related injury. But what if the person at fault was neither your boss or a coworker. Are you still limited to the benefits you can get through a workers’ compensation claim? Not necessarily.

The Benefits of Filing a Workers’ Compensation Claim

The workers’ compensation laws were enacted to simplify the process for workers and for employers. As an injured worker, you’ll have access to benefits within a few days or weeks, provided your claim is approved. You won’t have to wait on a court docket and you won’t have to spend months going through the discovery process.

As an employer, you’ll benefit under the workers’ compensation because of the limit set on the financial recovery. Typically, the benefits are based on the worker’s recent pay. You won’t have to worry about a sympathetic or potentially punitive jury award.

Filing a Third Party Claim

The workers’ compensation laws provide the exclusive remedy only for injuries caused by the negligence of an employer or a co-worker. If your injuries were caused, in whole or in part, by an unrelated third party, you can file a civil lawsuit against that person seeking damages. In fact, you can file a workers’ compensation claim and a personal injury lawsuit simultaneously. You just can’t recover twice for the same loss. If your medical expenses are covered by workers’ compensation, you won’t be able to recover for the same damages in your civil suit.

Contact the Law Office of David J. Karbasian

Contact us online or call our office at 856-667-4666 to arrange a private meeting. Your first consultation is free. The sooner you call, the sooner you can move forward with your claim. We can accommodate evening or weekend meeting requests and will come to your home, if necessary.

Are Workers’ Compensation Benefits Available for a Repetitive Motion or Stress Injury?

motion or stress injuryThere’s a common misperception that you can only recover workers’ compensation benefits if you have been hurt in a traumatic accident in the workplace. The reality is that many of the most devastating and crippling workplace injuries don’t happen in a single event, but are the product of months or years of unnatural stress on your body. Fortunately, the New Jersey workers’ compensation laws allow a worker to collect benefits for repetitive stress disorders (RSDs).

The Types of Occupations Where Workers are More Susceptible to Repetitive Stress Disorder

Statistics consistently show that about one of every two workplace injuries stem from repetitive motion or stress. As more and more manufacturing and industrial concerns have adopted an assembly line approach, the number of RSD-related injuries has gone up significantly. Repetitive stress disorder is a common cause of injury with:

  • Factory workers who perform the same limited function hour after hour, day after day, month after month. It may involve lifting, twisting, pinching, squeezing, turning or even simply standing in the same position. It can also involve squatting, bending over, turning or other lower body movements.
  • Workers who repeatedly turn or grab item, such as librarians, painters, carpenters, mechanics and cashiers, can often develop carpal tunnel syndrome, an inflammation that limits the use of the hands and forearms.
  • Typists, computer operators, graphic artists and others who use keyboards, computers or mice all have a greater risk of carpal tunnel and other RSDs

Contact Attorney David J. Karbasian

Contact our office online or call us at 856-667-4666 to schedule an appointment. Your first consultation is without cost or obligation. The sooner you call, the sooner you can move forward with your claim. We can accommodate evening or weekend meeting requests and will come to your home, if necessary.

Is Your Employer Required to Hold Your Job?

Can You Protect Your Job When You File a Workers’ Compensation Claim?

Is Your Employer Required to Hold Your Job?When you’ve been injured on the job, you have a right to file a workers’ compensation claim to compensate you for your disability and to cover any medical expenses. But your employer will probably need to find someone else to handle your responsibilities while you’re gone. What happens when you are able to return? Must your employer give you your old job back? Is there any way you can protect your job when you suffer a work-related injury?

You Cannot Be Fired for Filing a Workers’ Compensation Claim

First and foremost, it’s important to understand that New Jersey law prohibits termination of an employee for filing a valid workers’ compensation claim. Unfortunately, as a practical matter, that can be difficult to prove. New Jersey, like many states, is an “at will” employment state. That means that an employer or an employee may terminate employment at any time for any reason, provided it’s not contrary to a valid employment contract or to law or public policy. Your employer may allege other reasons for your termination. It will fall on you to prove the termination was because of the workers’ compensation claim.

There Are Limited Options for Protecting Your Job

Apart from the prohibition discussed above, there’s nothing in the New Jersey workers’ compensation laws that requires an employer to hold a job for an injured worker. There are two avenues, however, that you may consider:

  • Protecting your job under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)—This federal law allows you to take up to 13 weeks of leave (unpaid, unless you have sick time or vacation to cover it) to attend to certain family or medical matters. If your FMLA request is approved, your employer must keep your job or a similar one available for you.
  • Protecting your job through a collective bargaining agreement—If you belong to a union and work under a union contract, there may be provisions that require your employer to hold your job for a certain amount of time when you have been injured.

Contact the Law Offices of David J. Karbasian, PC

Send us an e-mail today or call us at 856-667-4666 to schedule an appointment.

Evening and weekend meetings can be arranged upon request. We’ll come to your home or the hospital to meet with you, if necessary.

Third Party Claims for Workplace Injuries

When Workers’ Compensation May Not Be Your Only Option

Third Party Claims for Workplace InjuriesIn New Jersey, when you have suffered injury or illness caused by an accident or exposure at work, your first recourse will typically be to file a workers’ compensation claim. In fact, your employer may even tell you that workers’ compensation is your “exclusive remedy,” that it replaces your right to file a personal injury lawsuit. In certain situations, that may be true, but there are exceptions. Here’s how it works.

The workers’ compensation laws were intended to be the “great bargain,” a program that would benefit both workers and employers. For workers, if your claim is approved, it means more rapid access to compensation. There’s no need to get on the court docket, to spend time gathering evidence, or to take your case to trial. If your application for benefits is approved, you can start receiving payments within a few weeks.

For employers, the primary advantage of the workers’ compensation system is the limit it puts on liability. Under the law, injured workers are paid a fixed benefit, mostly based on prior earnings. Accordingly, an employer doesn’t have to worry about a huge damage award from a sympathetic jury.

However, the workers’ compensation laws are a substitute for the liability of only the employer or a co-employee. If your injuries are caused by an unrelated third party, you can file a lawsuit to recover those damages. For example, if you were hurt in a motor vehicle accident involving an unrelated third party or because of the malfunction of a product or machine manufactured by an unrelated third party, you can still sue that party for damages.

In fact, you can file a workers’ compensation claim and a personal injury lawsuit simultaneously. The only caveat—you can’t recover twice for the same loss. If your workers’ compensation claim paid your medical expenses, you can’t recover for those losses in a personal injury lawsuit.

Contact Attorney David J. Karbasian

Contact our office online or call us at 856-667-4666 to schedule an appointment. Your first consultation is without cost or obligation. The sooner you call, the sooner you can move forward with your claim. We can accommodate evening or weekend meeting requests and will come to your home, if necessary.

Is Your Injury Work-Related? – Part Two

Your-Injury-Work-Related

Injuries Suffered at Company Outings | Injuries While Traveling

As we outlined in Part One of this series, the requirements to qualify for workers’ compensation benefits in New Jersey are twofold—you must have been injured and the injury must have occurred while you were in the performance of your job. Important questions can arise as to whether or not certain activities are job-related, such as company outings.

Injuries Suffered at Company Events

The company event or outing has become extremely popular and commonplace, whether it’s a firm golf outing, a team-building exercise or a company holiday party. When you are in attendance at such an event, you are typically not engaged in the tasks that make up your job. Does that mean that injuries suffered at a company outing are not covered by workers’ compensation? In most instances, the answer is no.

Company outings of any kind are generally considered to be work-related, whether attendance is mandatory or voluntary. There can, of course, be exceptions. For example, if you are injured at a company golf outing when your golf cart rolls over, you will typically be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits, unless it can be shown that you were either engaged in reckless behavior at the time (racing another employee, maybe) or you were inebriated or under the influence of drugs or alcohol. However, if your employer provided the alcohol, you may still be able to collect workers’ compensation benefits.

Injuries While Traveling

As a general rule, if you are required to travel for work (or have been asked to do so), you can recover workers’ compensation benefits for injuries suffered in a motor vehicle accident or any other type of accident. However, the commute to and from work is not considered to be part of your job. You can only recover workers’ compensation if you deviate from your regular route to engage in work-related activities (stopping at the post office or picking up food, for example).

If you travel to conferences or similar events, whether or not you qualify for workers’ compensation benefits depends on whether the activity you were engaged in at the time was wholly personal or part of your job.

Contact the Law Offices of David J. Karbasian, PC

Send us an e-mail today or call us at 856-667-4666 to schedule an appointment.

Evening and weekend meetings can be arranged upon request. We’ll come to your home or the hospital to meet with you, if necessary.

Is Your Injury Work-Related? – Part One

Injury-Work-Related

Injuries Suffered on a Work Break | Injuries Suffered While Traveling

In New Jersey, when you have been injured on the job, you have a right to seek disability payments for any time lost from work, as well as reimbursement or payment of medical expenses resulting from the injury. The New Jersey workers’ compensation system is a “no-fault” based system. That means that you don’t have to show that your employer was negligent (see our earlier series on proving negligence). Instead, there are just two requirements to qualify for workers’ compensation benefits in New Jersey—that you were hurt and that the injury occurred while you were working.

In most instances, it’s pretty clear that you meet the tests. If you fell off a ladder or were hurt when a machine, tool or piece of equipment broke down, there’s little question that you were in the performance of your duties. But there are circumstances where that determination may not be as clear. In this three-part series of blogs, we will look at some of those gray areas.

Injuries Suffered While On a Break

Under state and federal labor laws, employees are generally entitled to periodic breaks, including some type of meal break. While you are on such a break, you’re not actually at your desk or machine. Does that mean that you’re not working?

As a general rule, the answer is no. If your injury occurs during the course of a regularly scheduled break, you typically don’t lose eligibility. For example, if you slip on a wet floor in the break room or are injured when a chair or table collapses, you’ll usually be covered. Exceptions may include when you are engaged in unauthorized horseplay or conduct that’s in violation of established company rules.

With a lunch break, the determining factor is typically whether or not you leave company premises. If you are injured in the company cafeteria or on company property while on a meal break, you are customarily still able to recover workers’ compensation. If you leave company property, though, you lose the right to file a workers’ compensation for any injury suffered once you leave the premises and until you re-enter company property. If, however, you are on company business while on a lunch break—getting food for others or performing some work-related function—you can still claim workers’ compensation benefits for injuries sustained.

Contact Attorney David J. Karbasian

Contact our office online or call us at 856-667-4666 to schedule an appointment. Your first consultation is without cost or obligation. The sooner you call, the sooner you can move forward with your claim. We can accommodate evening or weekend meeting requests and will come to your home, if necessary.

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